This land is our land

The Washington Post - - FREE FOR ALL -

The Dec. 31 front-page ar­ti­cle “‘Smoth­ered’ and ‘shoved aside’ in ru­ral Amer­ica” as­serted that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama “set aside mil­lions of acres of un­de­vel­oped land as na­tional mon­u­ments . . . pre­vent­ing huge ar­eas from be­ing mined, logged or farmed.” That char­ac­ter­i­za­tion re­in­forced the false im­pres­sion that the des­ig­na­tion was a mo­men­tous and sweep­ing land grab in which pri­vate lands were ap­pro­pri­ated for in­clu­sion in the pub­lic lands sys­tem.

In fact, th­ese lands were al­ready fed­er­ally owned and man­aged. Through the des­ig­na­tion, Obama added a layer of pro­tec­tion, but a layer that also gen­er­ally pro­tected valid ex­ist­ing rights to mine or lease and uses such as graz­ing.

As for farm­ing, Obama’s ac­tions had no im­pact one way or the other be­cause farm­ing has never been an au­tho­rized use of fed­eral lands. Erica Rosen­berg, Wash­ing­ton The writer, an en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyer, was coun­sel to Se­nate and House com­mit­tees over­see­ing pub­lic lands.

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