‘It’s not about kicking everybody off the land’

Bruce Babbitt, former governor of Arizona, says it won’t be easy to tap wind and solar energy sources in the West while at the same time preserving wildlife, native cultural sites and landscape views across millions of acres.

The key, he told the Review-Journal last weekend, is for the Bureau of Land Management to adopt “better policies” to ensure those treasures are preserved when it comes time to develop solar, wind and geothermal power on public lands.

“The important thing is to have good front-end land use planning,” said Mr. Babbitt, who joined a Nevada gathering of “environmental” groups that make a habit of bringing lawsuits to delay or block any development in the west, including alternative energy — primarily under the guise of “protecting wildlife habitat.”

And such “planning” will allow the new transmission lines to proceed without such disruptions? Wanna bet?

Mr. Babbitt, who served as Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, represented the Colorado-based “Conservation Lands Foundation” at the third annual “Friends Rendezvous” that began Friday in Las Vegas.

“It’s not about kicking everybody off the land. It’s about protecting traditional uses of the land,” Mr. Babbitt asserted. “And it’s not about building all of the infrastructure that comes with a national park. It’s about getting the community behind it and protecting traditional uses,” Mr. Babbitt asserted.


There’s scenic splendor in the West, sure. Few who live here would want the empty lands all paved. Most Westerners are also happy to see the recovery of bison, eagle, and other species once over-hunted.

But unfortunately, if we’re discussing the arrogant gang that have dominated the environmental movement in recent years, Mr. Babbitt is wrong: it certainly has been “about kicking everybody off the land.”

Where are Clark County’s cattle ranchers? Despite the fact that desert tortoise counts are typically higher on lands where the scrub is grazed down by cattle, extremists have made cattle ranching so onerous that only one or two ranchers now persevere, where 50 years ago there were dozens.

Throughout the West, an ongoing government campaign — backed by the eco-extremists — digs pits or places boulders to block access to unpaved roads or trails to block their “traditional use” by off-road vehicles. Old-timers report old structures are quietly torn down to facilitate new “wilderness” designations.

While he was Interior Secretary, Mr. Babbitt participated in many a public-relations stunt in which he pretended to hand checks the size of surfboards to various mining interests, claiming these were the “subsidies” the taxpayers provided these risk-takers and job-creators by “not charging them enough” for mining permits on public lands.

And are we really expected to believe Mr. Babbitt wants to “protect the traditional land use” of amateur pot-digging, in a land where the only remaining “native cultural sites” are frequently old garbage middens?

If so, why the set-ups, the stings, the federal prosecutions that lead to suicides by such upstanding local citizens as beloved 60-year-old rural Utah doctor Jim Redd?

Try calling the federal government to come excavate a site once erosion exposes bones or textiles or earthenware, meaning most useful artifacts will be eroded or carried away by predators in short order. Try.

For that matter, they only assert collecting is illegal on federal lands, even if they misleadingly call them “public lands.” Ask them to show you a bill of sale for the lands in question, proving Washington “purchased” said lands “by the consent of the Legislature of the state in which the same shall be,” as required by Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, the only clause under which the federals can gain control over ANY American lands outside the District if Columbia.

“I spend a lot of time tramping around the West meeting with local groups and talking about the importance of getting this BLM conservation mission really embedded in the cultural and political matrix of the West,” said Mr. Babbitt, in effect promising more of the same.

Among the best examples to follow is Friends of Gold Butte, organized by Mesquite resident Nancy Hall, Mr. Babbitt said.

“The land belongs to us and we need to take care of it. It belongs to everyone,” Ms. Hall preened.

Actually, property rights in the West have a 150-year history as a complex mosaic of PRIVATE property rights, including overlays of mineral, water, and grazing rights which most certainly do not belong to any self-anointed “collective.”

Didn’t the former Arizona governor just say, a few paragraphs above, that “It’s about protecting traditional uses of the land?” Hasn’t the “traditional use” of lands including Gold Butte, over more than a century, included cattle grazing? But hasn’t the federal goal for 30 years now amounted to imposing new and absurd rules that had the effect of driving virtually every cattle ranching operation out of Clark County, with the result that desert tortoise populations have fallen precisely where the cattle used to be, while wildfire risks have increased?

What efforts do you suppose Ms. Hall will take to preserve this “traditional use”?

The green extreme seeks to drive up the costs of fossil fuels. But we shall see just how “cooperative” they prove when it comes time for them to forgo their next lawsuit, their next attempt to block development of the next alternative energy resource by claiming it threatens some previously unknown weed or bug, or — heaven forfend — “landscape views across millions of acres.”

One Comment to “‘It’s not about kicking everybody off the land’”

  1. Bruce D Says:

    One issue with government is that many enviro activists are firmly imbedded in various bureaus and other government bodies. While I have no issue with reducing pollution and taking care of our lands, the level of control against its use is absolutely over the top. The idea that we “all own the land” is a fabulous sounding socialist creed that covers the fact that you better not try and use any part of it without government consent or oversite. If we decide to use a little corner of the wilderness, it is inevitable that some petty bureaucrat show up to push us around. The one thing they can’t seem to do is simply to leave us alone.