In September 2016, OHUB contributor David Hart wrote a passionate story about why he believes that transferring federal lands to the states is the dumbest idea ever. A few months later, Hart and untold numbers of other outdoorsmen and women successfully halted a bill to sell 3 million acres of public land by contacting their legislators. In the end, the bill was put to rest by its sponsor, Jason Chaffetz, a US Congressman from Utah.
Chaffetz’s decision came after thousands of comments blew up his notifications on Facebook and Instagram. Users were flooding his inbox with hashtags such as #KeepItPublic and #PublicLandOwner, urging him to reconsider his position on the bill.
Of course, the battle over public lands is far from over. Recently more than 1,000 people gathered at Montana’s state capitol to show their support of protecting public lands, and a public lands rally is planned for 11 a.m. on March 4, 2017, at the Idaho Capitol in Boise.
“We want to see hunters and hikers; climbers and bird-watchers; mountain bikers and OHV owners. We want to see everybody who spends time in the outdoors,” said Rob Thornberry, Idaho Representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Idaho’s public lands are a treasure, and we want show our support for them.”
High-profile hunters are also stepping up to the plate in support of public lands. On Feb. 27, 2017, Cameron Hanes visited with Congressman Chaffetz (yes, the man who originally introduced the bill discussed in the beginning of this article). You can read the details of their meeting in the two Facebook posts below.
All across the country, those with a love of public lands are using social media – and specifically #KeepItPublic – to voice their opinion.
Like fighting to keep Second Amendment rights, the battle over public lands will probably never disappear. There will be more rallies at more state capitols. If you feel strongly about the issue, attend in person – and bring a friend. At the very least, contact those politicians who represent you to ensure they understand your position on public lands.