Bill Pushes for Sale of Federal Lands in Colorado
A state house committee is set to hear a controversial bill today that seeks to force the federal government to sell certain public lands in Colorado and put some of the proceeds into a state trust fund for education and water projects.
A similar bill was recently signed by Utah’s Republican Governor, and while several other states are considering related measures, the bill has little chance of passing in Colorado.
HB-1322, co-sponsored by Rep. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), would require the federal government to sell all federal public lands that are deemed worthy of agricultural production by the end of 2014.
The bill is expected to face stiff opposition. After all, federal land management and recreation and skiing on federal lands is the source of thousands of Colorado jobs, says Nada Culver of the Wilderness Society in Denver.
"But it’s also something we value for being places we can go, places like Herman’s Gulch," Culver said. "When there’s too much traffic up to the Eisenhower Tunnel, we all stop at Herman’s Gulch and go hiking or snowshoeing, that’s part of an inventoried roadless area, and under this bill, it would have to be sold off."
But Supporters of movements such as these have long argued federal agencies such as the Forest Service have mismanaged public lands, and blocked access to development, though since 2000 at least, oil and gas drilling on federal land in western states like Colorado has been on an upward trajectory.