A bill to force sale of federal lands to the state has failed in the Colorado Legislature, thanks in part to the Colorado chapter of ConservAmerica.
On a bipartisan vote, the House Education Committee turned the bill down, following testimony by ConservAmerica and other recreation, sportsmen, and conservation organizations against House Bill 1322.
The bill, as introduced, would have required the federal government to sell any lands in Colorado suitable for agricultural uses. National parks and monuments would have been exempted.
ConservAmerica testified: “We have pondered HB 1322 at length and just don’t get it. There is no proven need for any change in management of Colorado’s taxpayer and citizen-owned federal public lands. We see no violation of our state’s sovereignty and there is minimal ‘dictation’ from Washington. All employees of the federal agencies actually live in their local communities here in Colorado. The National Environmental Policy Act, signed in 1969 by Republican President Richard Nixon, provides that all citizens can have input into management decisions affecting their federal public lands.”
Bill sponsors had claimed the state is better suited to manage millions of acres of federal lands than the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Sponsors said continued federal management violates Colorado’s sovereignty, and land management decisions are dictated in Washington, DC.
The bill was amended in the House Education Committee to provide for the federal government to cede land for management by the State Land Board, which is constitutionally charged to raise money for public education by managing Colorado school trust lands.
Similar takeover or giveaway bills have been introduced in other Western states this year, and one passed in Utah. The vote in Colorado to “just say no” was bipartisan, as two Republicans joined six Democrats in voting HB 1322 down in committee.
Colorado ConservAmerica will watch for future silly bills like this one.