I recall that not long after receiving my appointment to the Dept. of Interior the NRA called and invited me to have lunch with them. There had been some controversy over using BLM lands for shooting ranges during the Carter administration, and I figured that would be their main concern. There are two things about that lunch meeting I vividly remember. First, I wasn’t all that impressed with the wild rice and some kind of duck that was served up. And second, the first issue they brought up was not shooting ranges, but what could be done about livestock grazing that was harming wildlife habitat all over the West. — emphasis added
This also confirms a long held feeling that there is not a dime’s worth of difference in any of them. All the demopublicans and the republicrats ever argue over is how they want to spend the stolen money.
As is apparent in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, America was founded on the Philosophy of John Locke who explained the process of the creation of “property rights.” If a man finds a previously unclaimed resource (no “squatters” allowed) and mixes his labor (Locke’s term was “sweat”) with it, the resulting product is an extension of him and is, therefore, his property.
These lands need to be returned to their rightful owners (and/or their heirs and assigns)– the families who have 4 or 5 generations of sweat equity in the lands (or those who have rightfully purchased those property rights through voluntary exchange).
I am hopeful but I doubt seriously that we will ever see it happen. — jtl, 419
Those are the gamut of my emotions with Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination for President, Trump winning the general election and Trump nominating Ryan Zinke for Secretary of Interior.
The political stars were lining up for a tremendous historical moment – the transfer of significant amounts of federal land to the states. With the issue on the front burner and Republican control of all three branches of government, one could see the light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel. Then the Republicans nominated the only candidate in the primary who opposed such a transfer, thus the disappointment.
However, relief was still felt with Trump’s victory in the general election. I’m not sure the West, as we know it, would have survived eight years of Hillary, or a total of sixteen years of environmental onslaught.
Surprisingly, with word leaking to the press that U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers would be nominated for Secretary of Interior, came near elation. She was a supporter of the transfer of lands, having cosponsored legislation to transfer lands already identified by the Bureau of Land Management for disposal.
The smile was quickly wiped from my face when the actual nominee was U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, an avowed opponent of such a transfer. So much so that he actually resigned his position on the Republican Platform Committee because it contained the following statement:
The federal government owns or controls over 640 million acres of land in the United States, most of which is in the West. These are public lands, and the public should have access to them for appropriate activities like hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. Federal ownership or management of land also places an economic burden on counties and local communities in terms of lost revenue to pay for things such as schools, police, and emergency services. It is absurd to think that all that acreage must remain under the absentee ownership or management of official Washington. Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states. We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands, identified in the review process, to all willing states for the benefit of the states and the nation as a whole. The residents of state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live. They practice boots-on-the-ground conservation in their states every day.
Notice the statement refers to only “certain” federal lands. That’s because most proposals would leave all military posts and Native American reservations in federal hands, along with all National Parks, Monuments, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. And yet, he resigned.
Notice also the statement refers to “willing” states. The transfers would only occur in those states who wanted the transfer to happen. If Zinke’s home state of Montana preferred the lands remain federal, then no transfer would occur. And yet, he resigned, denying that opportunity to other states.
Notice also the statement contains the Jeffersonian-influenced language that “state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live.” Zinke must think otherwise, as he resigned. The DC Deep Thinkers have an ally.
In April of 2016, Zinke authored an opinion piece for the Billings Gazette titled A Conservative Case For Conservation. Therein he opined:
Being a conservative and being a conservationist are not mutually exclusive. It’s conservative principles that drive my commitment to conservation… Party leaders and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on conservation issues, but they always know where I stand. Selling off our public lands is a non-starter. I’ve voted against budget resolutions and bucked party leadership on more than a couple occasions to defend our lands.
Zinke says it is “conservative principles” that drive his conservation.Please show me the conservative principle that says we should have a government large enough to control almost one out of every three acres in our country. Show me the conservative principle that endorses central planning by the feds over state, local and private planning. Furthermore, Zinke has supported legislation to permanently fund the Land & Water Conservation fund (for federal land acquisition). I’m waiting to see the conservative principle that calls for expanding the size and influence of the central government.
Shot down by hunters
If one seeks to determine why Trump has adopted this policy and nominated someone like Zinke, one is invariably led to Donald Trump, Jr.
Trump, Jr. is a long-time member of the NRA, is the youngest person ever voted into the Boone & Crockett Club, and has hunted all over the world. His father, now the President, has said his son would make a great Secretary of Interior. “The big joke at Christmas this year was that the only job in government that I would want is with the Department of Interior,” Trump Jr. told Wide Open Spaces. “I understand these issues. It’s something I’m passionate about. I will be the very loud voice about these issues in my father’s ear. No one gets it more than us.” Trump, Jr. opposes the transfer of lands, just as do the elite hunting organizations, and a source from the Interior transition team told CNN “balancing the Trump siblings’ natural inclinations toward conservation has been a key factor in the search for someone to run the Interior Department.”
I recall that not long after receiving my appointment to the Dept. of Interior the NRA called and invited me to have lunch with them. There had been some controversy over using BLM lands for shooting ranges during the Carter administration, and I figured that would be their main concern. There are two things about that lunch meeting I vividly remember. First, I wasn’t all that impressed with the wild rice and some kind of duck that was served up. And second, the first issue they brought up was not shooting ranges, but what could be done about livestock grazing that was harming wildlife habitat all over the West.
These hook and bullet boys are not our friends.They support Wilderness, the Endangered Species Act, and continued federal retention and control of natural resources. Their idea of multiple use is to have multiple hunting seasons on their special, preserved, federal lands.
The irony here is that Trump was portrayed as an outsider who would shake up “the establishment.” When it comes to Interior, he has instead reached out to the Republican old guard and handed them the keys to the castle.
Trump tinker toys
Why do I put so much emphasis on the land transfer issue? Because I believe it is our only chance to keep these lands productive and of value to local communities and the West in general. The current model of federal ownership, control and management will be most influenced by groups with the largest membership, the most money, the largest law firms, and the most offices in D.C. And that, my friends, ain’t the cowboys.
Instead of a major change on the range, we can look forward to four years of tinkering. Tinkering with the grazing regulations, with the policy manuals, and possibly some of the Executive Orders. There will be calls for more “collaboration”, for solutions that involve “all stakeholders” and other such nonsense. No major changes, and nothing that can’t be changed by the next administration.
I’ve been down that road before and I’ve come to realize that it is playing the establishment’s game, and the game is rigged in their favor.
The possibility for permanent, positive change was there, but appears to have been “trumped” by the existing power structure. There will be no “draining of the swamp” at Interior. Quite the contrary. And that brings great sadness to my heart.
Till next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.
Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation
Murray N. Rothbard was the father of what some call Radical Libertarianism or Anarcho-Capitalism which Hans-Hermann Hoppe described as “Rothbard’s unique contribution to the rediscovery of property and property rights as the common foundation of both economics and political philosophy, and the systematic reconstruction and conceptual integration of modern, marginalist economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified moral science: libertarianism.”
This book applies the principles of this “unified moral science” to environmental and natural resource management issues.
The book started out life as an assigned reading list for a university level course entitled Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View.
As I began to prepare to teach the course, I quickly saw that there was a plethora of textbooks suitable for universal level courses dealing with environmental and natural resource economics. The only problem was that they were all based in mainstream neo-classical (or Keynesian) theory. I could find no single collection of material comprising a comprehensive treatment of environmental and natural resource economics based on Austrian Economic Theory.
However, I was able to find a large number of essays, monographs, papers delivered at professional meetings and published from a multitude of sources. This book is the result. It is composed of a collection of research reports and essays by reputable scientists, economists, and legal experts as well as private property and free market activists.
The book is organized into seven parts: I. Environmentalism: The New State Religion; II. The New State Religion Debunked; III. Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; IV. Interventionism: Law and Regulation; V. Pollution and Recycling; VI. Property Rights: Planning, Zoning and Eminent Domain; and VII. Free Market Conservation. It also includes an elaborate Bibliography, References and Recommended Reading section including an extensive Annotated Bibliography of related and works on the subject.
The intellectual level of the individual works ranges from quite scholarly to informed editorial opinion.