This year Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduced a bill to sell off of 3.3 million acres of public land from 10 different states. The measure could have proceeded, but Americans resoundingly spoke out to fight the bill – and Chaffetz listened. This week he wrote: “I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow.”
I am withdrawing HR 621. I'm a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands. The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message. The bill was originally introduced several years ago. I look forward to working with you. I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow. #keepitpublic #tbt
Chaffetz’s bill, HR 621, would have sold off land in Utah, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and Nebraska. He first introduced the bill in 2013, and a poll conducted around then revealed 72 percent of voters residing in western states wouldn’t be as likely to vote for a candidate who backed the idea of selling public lands to make a dent in the deficit, which was one of Chaffetz’s proposals in HR 621.
When he reintroduced the bill in 2017, people made their voices heard. Many called representatives and posted on social media using the hashtag #keepitpublic to say they were against the bill. Chaffetz, who described himself as a gun owner and hunter who loves public lands in an Instagram post, responded to the public pressure. While he said the bill would only have sold small land parcels President Clinton “identified as serving no public purpose,” he said groups he supports feared the bill didn’t send the right message.
Many people expressed their gratitude but also called for Chaffetz to withdraw HR 622 as well, which according to the representative “removes the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. Instead, the bill calls for deputizing local law enforcement, combined with block grant funding, to empower existing duly elected law enforcement offices to carry out these responsibilities.”