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The first battle between the Federal Government and the states over control of public land goes to the states, as a House Committee approves pending legislation to allow each state to assume ownership of two million acres of Federal public land.

If this bill is passed, states can sell the land, develop it, mine it, or just keep it as public access, the later the least likely option. Here’s the latest from Outdoor Life on a matter that’s of critical importance to outdoor-loving people.

For months we have discussed, debated, and reported on the movement that would force the federal government to hand management of millions of acres of public lands over to state control.  Lands that provide hunting, fishing, and recreational access to millions of Americans, lands that many believe would soon be sold, developed, or otherwise removed from public ownership before the ink on the transferred deed was dry. All this time, we’ve looked at this issue as a “what if” scenario. It wasn’t real. Until now.

On Wednesday afternoon, the House Committee on Natural Resources voted to adopt House Resolution 3650. Here’s the legislative summary of the bill:

“This bill directs the Department of Agriculture, through the Forest Service, to convey to a state up to 2 million acres of eligible portions of the National Forest System (NFS) in it that it elects to acquire through enactment by the state legislature of a bill meeting certain criteria.

“Portions of the NFS conveyed to a state shall be administered and managed primarily for timber production.”

You read that correctly. The bill allows for up to two million acres of National Forest lands to be handed over to state control for the primary purpose of a timber sale. Living in Michigan, I have some experience with timber sales. Here’s how they work:

A timber company either buys or leases a big chunk of ground. They take the trees. Sometimes they allow public access for free. Sometimes for a fee. Sometimes, well, not at all. After the timber is harvested, the land is often sold for other purposes, including residential development or to membership-only hunting clubs… [continued]

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