Conservationists of all kinds are protesting a Republican lawmaker's proposal for the "disposal" of an area of federal land the size of Connecticut—and their outcry seems to have worked, for now. The House bill introduced by Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz called for the immediate sale of 3.3 million acres of public land in 10 states, Outdoor Life reports. "The long overdue disposal of excess federal lands will free up resources for the federal government" and boost economic development, Chaffetz initially said in a statement. But, following massive uproar, Chaffetz announced Wednesday night he would withdraw the bill.
A rule change introduced in January means the federal government is no longer required to make money when it sells off public lands. The bill Chaffetz introduced stated that the land had "no purpose for taxpayers," though hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts strongly disagreed, calling the move a "land grab" that will deprive them of access to large areas of wilderness. "Last I checked, hunters and fishermen were taxpayers," Backcountry Hunters and Anglers spokesperson Jason Amaro told the Guardian. He represents a chapter that includes New Mexico, where a chunk of land the size of Rhode Island would have been sold off under the bill. "That word 'disposal' is scary," Amaro said. It's not 'disposable' for an outdoorsman." Over at Outside Online, Abe Streep warns that this won't be "the last fight between the Republican Congress and the outdoor industry." (Read more Bureau of Land Management stories.)