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Santorum In Idaho: Sell Off Public Lands To The Private Sector

By Public Lands Team  

"Santorum In Idaho: Sell Off Public Lands To The Private Sector"

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By Jessica Goad, Manager of Research and Outreach, Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Speaking at a campaign stop in Idaho Tuesday night, Rick Santorum continued the Republican presidential contenders’ recent pattern of calling for the selling off of public lands.  According to the Idaho Statesmen, Santorum told Idahoans that:

But there’s a lot of land out there that is land that can and should be managed by stewards who care about that land. I believe the land is there to serve man, not man there to serve the land. If we turn that, obviously, BLM, they just don’t — look, we’re not going to have the resources to manage this land correctly. The federal government doesn’t care about it, they don’t care about this land. They don’t live here, they don’t care about it, we don’t care about it in Washington. It’s just flyover country for most of the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

We need to get it back into the hands of the states and even to the private sector. And we can make money doing it, we can make money doing it by selling it. So I believe that this is critically important.

Santorum failed to note that public lands—even those that aren’t national parks—are of incredible importance to Idaho.   Interior Department-managed lands alone (not including the 13 national forests in Idaho) provided more than $1 billion in economic impacts to the state in 2010.  Activities on federal lands such as recreation, drilling, mining, and timber also stimulated over 11,000 jobs.

Some of Idaho’s best places are on public lands, such as Craters of the Moon National Monument and the Nez Perce National Historical Trail.  Even the Bald Mountain ski area in Sun Valley is on public lands.   Forests, grasslands, and national monuments are of tremendous use to hunters, anglers, hikers, ranchers, gas companies, and many others who utilize these places that are managed for all of us to use and enjoy.

Santorum also told the Idaho Statesman that “the federal government doesn’t care about” public lands.  It is difficult to measure how much the federal government “cares” about a particular issue, but all one needs to do is talk with employees of the BLM, National Park Service, or the US Forest Service to find the people that “care” about public lands. As for President Obama, just Monday he released an $11.5 billion budget request for the Interior Department, up slightly from last year.

Two weeks ago, Mitt Romney told a Nevada newspaper that he doesn’t know “what the purpose is” of public lands.  And Ron Paul told a crowd in Nevada that he wants “as much federal land to be turned over to the state as possible.”

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