The debate over transferring federal public lands gained national attention through the Bundy family’s attempted violent takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. But the cast of characters working to further those goals is much bigger, and has been active for much longer. We aim to make sure they aren’t successful in seizing nationally-held lands – a move that would put them at risk of being sold to powerful special interests.
Protecting county taxpayers from special interest giveaways
The American Lands Council – the leading backers of the proposal to seize and sell national public lands – has troubling origins. Its founder has been accused of perpetuating a fraudulent scheme in his efforts to solicit funds from county officials, and is under investigation by the state of Utah for using taxpayer resources to advance its agenda. The WVP is undertaking a public education campaign to make sure local government leaders and county taxpayers know the full implications of this organization and its goals.
Fighting irresponsible litigation that undermines public lands
The state of Utah has long considered filing a lawsuit to force a takeover of public lands. That plan recently came closer to reality when the state legislature approved $14 million for an out-of-state law firm to file suit. A poll commissioned by the WVP found that 61 percent of Utah voters oppose a lawsuit to transfer federal public lands due to its costs and potential impacts to access for hunting and fishing. We continue to look for ways to block the lawsuit from being filed, in order to protect both public access to lands, and public revenues.