Should Federally Owned Lands Be Privatized?

The acting director of the BLM, William Perry Pendley, has been attacked in recent months for his beliefs about wild horses and federal ownership of public lands.

We don’t know what he and other Trump administration officials have been told about America’s wild horses and burros but his remarks don’t appear to be reasonable on the basis of the available evidence.

However, we can be fairly sure that those opposing his agenda are mostly liberals who believe that everything should be controlled by an all-powerful centralized government, which they, of course, would run.

So before you dismiss the idea of selling off [some] public lands, imagine for a few minutes how it could benefit our wild horses and burros.

  • Wild horses and burros would be authorized on all the lands where they were found when the WHB Act was signed into law
  • Additional lands beyond the Herd Areas would be designated as buffer zones, fully accessible to horses and burros
  • The buffer zones would contain enough acreage to offset current and future losses of forage attributable to petroleum exploration, mining, timber production and recreational activities, as well as the return of all horses and burros now held in off-range corrals and long-term pastures
  • Livestock grazing would be prohibited on these lands
  • The WHB Act would be restored to its original form
  • The needs of horses and burros would be balanced with those of wildlife, per the original statute, especially endangered species
  • Ranchers could bid on lands not designated for WHB or any other purpose deemed to be of national or local interest
  • Ranchers would pay taxes on their parcels (like everybody else) and bear the full cost of operating and maintaining them
  • No more federal payments for rangeland improvements (currently $10 million per year) because the grazing program no longer exists
  • Ranchers would be exposed to market forces and their fate would be placed in the hands of American consumers
  • Horses and burros that stray onto private lands would be returned to their home ranges, not placed in off-range corrals, pastures, sanctuaries or preserves
  • Local advocacy groups would be allowed to construct and maintain various improvements that benefit the horses and burros

The last step would be to reorganize or close the government bureaucracies associated with public-lands ranching and amend the statutes as needed.

PSA 12-24-19

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