Not exactly what Woody Guthrie meant

The New York Times takes a squint at the “give all the land to us” movement behind the Bundy putsch.

Ken Ivory, a Republican state representative from Utah, has been roaming the West with an alluring pitch to cattle ranchers, farmers and conservatives upset with how Washington controls the wide-open public spaces out here: This land is your land, he says, and not the federal government’s.

Is it indeed? How? According to whom or what? On what terms? With what mechanism for dealing with conflicts? If it’s “their” land it’s presumably “my” land too so what if I want to protect it from development and “they” want to develop it?

How did it get to be anyone’s property in the first place? It was seized, that’s all. It doesn’t belong to cattle ranchers more than everyone else.

Mr. Ivory, a business lawyer from suburban Salt Lake City, does not fit the profile of a sun-scoured sagebrush rebel. But he is part of a growing Republican-led movement pushing the federal government to hand over to the states millions of acres of Western public lands — as well as their rich stores of coal, timber and grazing grass.

In other words a movement pushing the feds to hand over public lands for exploitation so that a few people can get very rich, as opposed to regulating and conserving according to criteria other than making a lot of money in a hurry by stripping everything.

This Ivory dude founded a group that’s funded by the Koch brothers.

In the past few years, lawmakers across the West have offered up dozens of bills and resolutions seeking to take over the federal lands inside their borders or to study how to do so. Some of the legislation has been aimed at Congress, to urge it to radically revise the laws that have shaped 550,000 square miles of national forests and terrain run by the federal Bureau of Land Management, stretching from the Great Plains to the Pacific.

The whole thing is just “fuck the common good, give it to us so that we can use it to death for big bucks.”

In practice, local land disputes — fueled by deepening antagonism toward federal land agencies — now unfold like social-media passion plays. Last summer, armed groups intervened by providing security and standing guard at mines in Oregon and Montana that had received stop-work orders from the Bureau of Land Management. And in December, Phil Lyman, a commissioner in San Juan County, Utah, received a 10-day jail sentence after he led a protest ride on all-terrain vehicles through a federal area that had been closed to motorized use.

“All I did was drive down a canyon road,” Mr. Lyman said. “It seems to be getting worse, and the federal agencies, they are expanding. Their restraints are being overstepped. It’s not the way this country was set up. It’s not the founders’ design.”

Well the founders weren’t familiar with motorized vehicles, were they. They also weren’t familiar with a population of 321 million people, were they. There are a lot of things they weren’t familiar with. They don’t have the last word on everything.

“The land policies now are, basically, lock it up and throw away the key,” said Leland Pollock, a commissioner in Garfield County, Utah, a county roughly the size of Connecticut with pine forests and stunning red-rock spires. “It’s land with no use. The local economy’s really suffered as a result. Grazing has been reduced. We used to have a thriving timber industry — that’s all but gone.”

Whereas if the feds gave the forests to the timber industry, they would be gone in a few years.

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