Land Use

Why Don't Environmentalists Just Buy the Land They Want To Protect? Because It's Against the Rules.

Regulation and litigation rule the day, but sometimes cash should be king.


Stop me if you've heard this one before: An environmentalist walks into a federal auction and buys up the drilling rights to thousands of acres of public lands. But instead of developing the leases, he decides to keep the oil and gas in the ground, because to him the landscape is more valuable conserved than developed.

Funny, right?

Anyone who follows environmental politics knows that environmentalists have a reputation for being more likely to lobby, litigate, or regulate than to simply pay for what they want to protect. Yet when Tim DeChristopher went to protest an energy lease auction by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2008, he tried the more direct approach. DeChristopher walked into the lease sale in Salt Lake City and ended up outbidding developers for more than 22,000 acres of drilling rights on public lands near Moab, Utah. His reward for winning: a prison sentence.

DeChristopher didn't exactly bid in good faith. As a college student at the time, he went to the auction expecting to join a group of other protesters. But when he arrived, the auctioneers asked if he was there to bid.

"They said, 'Are you here to be a bidder?'" DeChristopher later recounted. "And I said, 'Well, yes, I am.'" They handed him a bidder's paddle, and once the auction began, he started bidding for leases. The prices varied. One sold for $500, or just $2.25 per acre. Another for a mere $77. Others went for much more. Soon, DeChristopher won the drilling rights to 14 parcels for a total of $1.8 million—money he didn't have and had no intention of paying.

Auction officials eventually caught on to DeChristopher's bogus bids, and he was arrested and later sentenced to two years in prison for making false statements and interfering with a federal lease auction. And while DeChristopher became an environmental folk hero for monkey wrenching the process, the event raised a question: Why don't environmentalists just bid for leases on public land?

The answer, it turns out, is complicated. Technically, any U.S. citizen can bid for and hold leases for energy, grazing, or timber resources on public lands. But legal requirements often preclude environmentalists from participating in such markets. Federal and state rules typically require leaseholders to harvest, extract, or otherwise develop the resources, effectively shutting those who want to conserve resources out of the bidding process. Energy leasing regulations, for example, require leaseholders to extract the resources beneath their parcels. If they don't, the leases could be canceled.

What would happen if environmentalists did bid in good faith and paid for their leases? In 2016, the well-known author and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams and her husband, Brooke, attempted something similar. But unlike DeChristopher, the pair paid for their leases and attempted to follow the leasing regulations. While attending a protest of a BLM auction in Utah, they learned that some of the leases that didn't sell could be purchased afterward directly from the agency.

"So we signed up and bought them," Brooke says. "We paid with our debit card." All it took was $1.50 an acre (plus an $820 processing fee) to secure the drilling rights to two leases comprising 1,120 acres near Arches National Park. The couple even created an "energy company," Tempest Exploration Co. LLC, and began paying the annual rental fees associated with the lease.

"We have every intention of complying with the law, even as we challenge it," Tempest Williams later wrote in a New York Times op-ed. "We will pay the annual rent for the duration of the 10-year lease and keep whatever oil and gas lies beneath these lands in the ground."

It didn't work. The BLM canceled the leases, alleging that Tempest Williams violated the "diligent development requirement" of the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act, which requires lessees to "exercise reasonable diligence in developing and producing" their energy resources. In an October 2016 letter, the BLM told Tempest Williams that "since you have stated publicly that you intend to keep the oil and gas resources in the ground," referring to her comments in the Times, "the lease offers are hereby rejected."

The bids by DeChristopher and the Williamses were widely viewed as gimmicks—and they were. The Williamses sought to promote the burgeoning "keep it in the ground" activist movement, which seeks to fight climate change by stopping fossil fuel extraction, while DeChristopher's bogus bidding was portrayed as an act of civil disobedience. But the examples also sparked a conversation about the core functions of the federal land leasing systems that determine the use of natural resources throughout much of the nation, and the extent to which they shut out other bidders from participating. After all, shouldn't preservationists be able to spend money on the things they value, just like anyone else?

'A No-Win for Everyone'

Disputes between environmental activists and developers often have a predictable result: litigation. Environmental activists have perfected a zero-sum game of suing, suing, and then suing some more to halt development projects or other land-use activities they don't like. An alphabet soup of environmental laws—from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA)—gives groups ample opportunities to stall projects with legal challenges or to thwart them entirely.

But increasingly, environmentalists are testing the strategy of bidding for the rights to natural resources instead. In recent years, activists have attempted to acquire oil and gas rights in Utah, buy out ranchers' public grazing permits in New Mexico, purchase hunting tags in Wyoming to stop grizzly bears from being killed, and bid against logging companies in Montana to keep trees standing.

"It's a market-based approach," says Judi Brawer of WildEarth Guardians, an environmental group that has negotiated several grazing permit buyouts from ranchers in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. "And it's way more effective at the end of the day."

Environmentalists paying to protect landscapes isn't itself new. Nonprofit organizations such as the Nature Conservancy do it all the time, raising millions of dollars in donations to buy land or easements to protect important landscapes from development. But the extent of these voluntary market-based exchanges is often limited to private lands. On federal and state property—which makes up most of the land in the American West—such deals are much more complicated, if not outright prohibited.

Environmentalists are often not allowed to acquire public land leases to conserve the land—at least not without considerable difficulty. And it's not due to a lack of financial resources. As Tempest Williams found out the hard way, federal and state laws typically prevent leaseholders from acquiring such rights for nonconsumptive purposes. For this reason, people who want to conserve lands often have no other option but to lobby for restrictive designations, regulate existing land practices, or file legal challenges to stop extractive activities on public lands they care about.

History helps explain why this is the case. The laws and institutions governing the use of most federal- and state-managed land emerged in the 19th and early 20th centuries for a narrow purpose: to promote the productive use of the nation's resources. Property rights were established and maintained by actively using the resources. Concepts such as "beneficial use," "use it or lose it," and "the rule of capture" undergird the legal history of U.S. land policy and still serve as the basis for many of the rules that determine the use of natural resources.

But nowadays, those institutions are often ill-equipped to accommodate new environmental demands. The typical response has been to add layers of environmental laws and regulations to these pre-existing institutions. Comprehensive land-use planning, environmental analysis, and other forms of red tape are now required for almost every federal land-use decision—all of it ostensibly designed to ensure that everyone's concerns, coupled with the best available science, are taken into account by agency experts, who will somehow divine the ideal outcome.

In reality, these layers of laws and regulations are more likely to lead to years of litigation and acrimony that leave everyone frustrated. That frustration has led some to look for other possible solutions.

"We've really gotten away from grazing litigation because it was a no-win for everyone," says Brawer of WildEarth Guardians. For decades, her group sued federal land agencies to reduce or rescind ranchers' grazing permits to protect endangered species and other wildlife. And while it still occasionally litigates, she says the overall approach has shifted to now simply trying to buy ranchers' permits.

"I think a buyout strategy is way more effective than the litigation approach," Brawer says, "because a litigation approach doesn't necessarily leave everyone happy. It probably leaves most people unhappy." Most of the time, she says, legal challenges result in small reductions in grazing on public lands, whereas a voluntary permit buyout could enable her group to remove cattle entirely from a public land allotment while also paying the rancher for the value of his permit.

That is, if the feds allow it. Like energy lease holders, federal grazing permit holders must meet certain criteria. They must, well, actually graze the land. In addition, permit holders must own a nearby "base property" that can serve as the basis for their ranching operation, and they must be "engaged in the livestock business"—an obvious impediment to any environmental group trying to acquire grazing permits.

Nonetheless, the activists at WildEarth Guardians have occasionally found ways to work around these requirements. The group has negotiated several deals to pay ranchers in New Mexico to relinquish their grazing permits while simultaneously petitioning the U.S. Forest Service to not reissue the unused permits to other ranchers. The process is tenuous—only Congress can retire a grazing allotment—and there is always the risk the agency could simply give the permit to another rancher who will put it to use.

No one understands this better than Jon Marvel, founder of the Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project. Marvel made a name for himself by being the high bidder on state-owned grazing leases as a way to preserve the land for wildlife and recreation, only to repeatedly have his bids rejected by the state, which then granted the leases to ranchers instead.

Marvel says he got the idea while hiking on a small section of state-owned land in central Idaho in 1993. The land was degraded, and the nearby creek—a spawning stream for salmon and steelhead—was filled with sediment. "It was totally beat out by cattle," Marvel told me. "It was really ugly." He decided he wanted to do something about it. So he called the state agency and said he wanted to bid on the lease, which was soon to expire.

An auction was scheduled, and Marvel opened the bidding at $30. "That's too damn much, I'm not bidding," Marvel recalled the rancher who had previously held the permit saying. Marvel was the only bidder, but the rancher appealed the auction to the state land board.

The state awarded the lease to the rancher anyway, setting off a lengthy legal battle over who can bid for state grazing leases. Marvel, who recently retired, ended up devoting the rest of his career to challenging ranchers' monopoly on public grazing lands.

Marvel's focus on state-owned lands was, in retrospect, brilliant. State trust lands were granted to Western states by Congress at statehood for a singular purpose: to earn money for schools and other public institutions. States have a constitutional mandate to maximize revenues from trust lands, typically by leasing them for grazing, drilling, or logging. But "the Idaho Constitution does not give an ongoing birthright to public land grazing," Marvel told local newspapers after the state rejected his initial bids. "Other valuable uses exist on these lands."

Time and again, Marvel was the high bidder on state leases in Idaho, only to be denied the lease. (After a second auction was ordered for the initial lease, Marvel outbid the rancher $2,000 to $10, yet the state again awarded the lease to the rancher.) The state erected all sorts of barriers to disqualify Marvel, such as establishing "qualified bidder" criteria, designating "preferred" land uses, and requiring bidders to create "grazing plans." Only after such disputes came before the Idaho Supreme Court did Marvel's strategy prevail, thanks to the court's simple logic: If an environmentalist values the land more than ranchers do, then the environmentalist should get the lease.

'Shoot 'Em With a Camera'

You'd think that'd be a straightforward proposition. But opponents offer plenty of reasons to exclude environmental bidders. How would "non-use" rights work in practice, especially if agencies consider "use" as a form of necessary land management? If non-use bidders were allowed, would they prevent agencies from properly managing natural resources?

Those questions are at the forefront of several debates playing out in my backyard near Yellowstone National Park, which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. In one case earlier this year, a proposed timber sale on state trust lands in the Gallatin Valley near Bozeman, Montana, sparked organized opposition from a group of nearby residents. Since the state is required to generate revenue from its trust lands, the group took a page out of Marvel's playbook and attempted to bid against timber companies to keep the trees standing.

They did so under a little-known Montana law that allows non-use bidders to acquire a "timber conservation license" on state lands. The license amounts to a temporary deferment of the timber sale. To secure it, the group, known as Save Our Gallatin Front, had to first outbid loggers for the right to cut the trees.

In March, they did just that. The group outbid a logging company $400,000 to $376,000 to secure a conservation license that bars timber harvesting on the 443-acre area for the next 25 years. It marked the first time the license had been used to block an entire timber sale in Montana.

"Then we had to decide, how do we raise that much money?" says Brad Webb, a board member of Save Our Gallatin Front. The group set up a GoFundMe campaign, and the donors began pouring in. Within a few weeks, the residents had raised more than enough to pay for the license.

"I was surprised at how quickly it came in," Webb says. "People in Bozeman are attracted here for the natural amenities. So they were really teed up to support this, especially since it was preserving one of the last remaining unlogged areas near town."

But from the outset, many questions surrounded the conservation option: How long should the license last? Ten years? Or maybe 100 years—the estimated time it would take the forest to regrow? The law provided no guidance, but the state eventually settled on 25 years, at which point the timber could go back up for auction. There were also management concerns. The state argued that logging is necessary to reduce wildfire risk, and that the forest will be prone to insect infestation and disease if it isn't harvested soon. Would a conservation license prevent much-needed forest management?

Save Our Gallatin Front's victory rankled many Republicans in the state, who argued that it was a threat to the timber industry. Soon after the group won its bid, the GOP-controlled state legislature voted to repeal Montana's conservation license provision. In May, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock signed the repeal into law, prohibiting any future use of conservation licenses on state lands in Montana.

Webb thinks the law's repeal was shortsighted and anti-competitive. "Some of the people that put this forward were less concerned about the state's fiduciary responsibility to maximize revenues," he says. "The state made more money from us than they did from the timber industry, because we won the bid. It was more, 'Let's subsidize the timber industry.'"

An ongoing debate over grizzly bear hunting near Yellowstone raises related concerns. Last year, Wyoming implemented a controversial lottery to issue licenses to hunt grizzlies, which had been recently removed from the endangered species list. Some environmentalists were outraged, and a campaign called "Shoot 'Em With a Camera—Not a Gun" emerged. The group enlisted nonhunters to pay to enter the lottery and, if awarded one of 22 bear hunting tags, to refrain from using it, thus preventing bears from being killed.

Thomas Mangelsen, a well-known wildlife photographer and outspoken critic of grizzly bear hunting, was one of the lucky few who drew a tag. His plan: "I'm going to go hunt bears with a camera," he told a local paper. "I'm going to try to get a few good pictures, and do what I applied for."

In the end, the hunt itself was shelved after a federal judge restored endangered species protections for the bears just days before hunting season began. But the idea of using hunting tags to prevent animals from being hunted had raised many concerns: If nonhunters could acquire hunting tags, would they thwart the state's ability to control wildlife populations, which is often done through managed hunting? Would allowing nonhunters to participate diminish hunters' longstanding influence over state fish and wildlife agencies?

There are other objections to non-use bidding. Public grazing leases are often interconnected with private ranchlands, and some fear opening those to environmentalist bidders would threaten the viability of rural ranching communities. And royalties derived from oil and gas extraction often provide lucrative revenue streams to federal, state, and local coffers, including public schools. Some are concerned that non-use bidders, to the extent they are allowed to prevail, could jeopardize those revenues.

Bidding Is Best

The trouble is, no one is happy with the status quo either. Constant conflict and litigation are not exactly favorable to traditional land users. Livestock grazing on federal lands has declined more than 50 percent since the 1950s, in part due to environmental regulations that have weakened ranchers' grazing privileges and pitted them against environmentalists in zero-sum legal fights. Likewise, timber harvests on federal lands have fallen nearly 80 percent since the 1980s.

"The bottom line is that if a rancher gets all their cows kicked off the land [through litigation], he or she is screwed," says Brawer of WildEarth Guardians. "Buyouts provide an opportunity for ranchers."

They are also a pragmatic solution to today's grazing challenges, says Kit Fischer of the National Wildlife Federation, which has negotiated permit buyouts in the Yellowstone region using an approach similar to WildEarth Guardians'. Fischer's group, unlike some others, is not anti-livestock. It pursues buyouts in areas where ranchers frequently come into conflict with large carnivores such as grizzlies and wolves and aims to reduce the spread of disease from domestic sheep herds to wild ones.

"If we can shuffle the deck in terms of how and where grazing is done, then we're good with that," Fischer says. "We think there's plenty of room on the landscape for livestock grazing, but it takes a market solution to create those changes. Livestock producers likely won't make those changes themselves because they're invested in their allotments."

The current leasing system is not a clear win for taxpayers either. The federal government spends more money administering its grazing and timber programs than it earns from grazing leases and timber sales. And although energy development does often yield a net positive return, in some places it is likely that environmental bids could help generate even more revenue. A 2017 BLM oil and gas lease in Utah's West Desert, for instance, earned the feds less than $15,000 in revenue, with some parcels leasing for just $2 an acre. The leases occurred in prime habitat for sage grouse, a species of considerable conservation interest, leading many environmental groups to formally protest the sale.

What if those environmental groups could have directly bid on the leases instead? Surely they could have afforded it—they likely spent more in time and resources protesting the auction. Bidding would have generated more revenue while also giving environmentalists the protections they desired. But that wasn't an option.

There is widespread cynicism and skepticism about markets in environmentalist circles. And there may be legitimate concerns about how to best accommodate environmental bidding within current leasing structures. But much of the opposition is likely rooted in a desire to limit competition.

The lesson is not that energy development, logging, or livestock grazing is bad, or that every effort to stop such activities should prevail. Rather, it's that environmental values are real and legitimate, and they are best expressed in ways that acknowledge existing property rights, seek an honest bargain, and reflect the opportunity costs of the other forgone values associated with the land.

"I don't think most people are opposed to logging when it's done correctly," says Webb from Save Our Gallatin Front. "Most of us live in a house made of wood, and that wood has to come from somewhere." But Webb says there are places where other values—recreation, conservation, or natural amenities—may dominate. "If somebody loves something and wants to protect it," he says, "then let's put up the money. People value things like open space and are often willing to pay to support it."

He's right. It's clear that many people value conservation and are willing to spend money to get it—sometimes even their own money. The only question is whether those resources will be channeled through zero-sum political means or through positive-sum market mechanisms. In any case, if competing groups cannot directly acquire or trade rights through markets, whether for use or non-use purposes, the only option is to fight it out in the political and legal arenas.

So the next time you hear an environmental activist saying we need to save the trees or a Green New Dealer calling to abolish "farting cows," you might wonder what's preventing him from paying to do so right now. The answer, often, is not that he won't but that he can't.

NEXT: Brickbat: Droit du Seigneur

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  1. Deliberately conflating resource extraction lease rights with land ownership rights so that you can whinge for 1,500 words about how complying with the terms of a lease is persection. Reason indeed.

    1. Do you mean land ownership rights, or a standard lease?

      Do you contend that leases should include solely ‘resource extraction leases’ in this context? If so, why?

      1. Way to show your ignorance there buddy. His comment was correct. These are mineral rights on federal land. The land isnt being sold.

        1. To whose ostensible ignorance are you attempting to refer? Whose comment, in your judgment, was correct. The nesting indicates you were attempting to respond to my comment, but the substance indicates you were attempting to respond to the original comment.

    2. JesseAz and Usain Bolt are retarded and didn’t read the article. The article is clearly talking about extraction leases, which is a property right. A property right should not have to require alienation by the government, as that severely diminishes the right. The government should protect rights, not place unnecessary burdens on them.

      1. All contracts are a form of property. But that is not how this is being presented.

        I’m all for de-Federalizing public lands, but that would just shift the issue to the states. Who would still be free to set whatever terms they wished upon such resource leases.

  2. “Why Don’t Environmentalists Just Buy the Land They Want To Protect?”

    Because moist are authoritarians who want the state to force its policies on others. The environmentalism is just a cover for validating their authoritarianism

    1. Did you misspell ‘most’, or ‘Maoist’?

      1. I just took it to be that forcing their policies on others makes them moist.

    2. Wouldn’t the authoritarians be the one asserting that the government should require particular terms of use in the lease, rather than the ones who wish to purchase the lease and decide how to use the lease?

      Other than that, great comment.

      Or, more accurate, no comment.

      1. Did you bother to read the article dummy? There are conditions put on the leases.

        1. The article suggests the government should refrain from placing authoritarian restrictions (‘you must extract minerals,’ for example, distinguishable from ‘you may protect the land as you wish while you lease it’) in leases, promoting market principles in land use.

          1. The law makes it explicit that public land (national forests and BLM land) must be used for these purposes. The contracts are written as such, the environmentalist are ignoring the law. And disingenuously entering into contracts they have no intention of fulfilling. The USSC has also ruled that historic ranches have deeded rights to grazing allotments. So you also have to convince the courts.

          2. Again Rev, they aren’t leasing “the land.”

            They are leasing extraction .

            If I own an office building and I build out a little convenience store in the lobby because I think it will be a good for my tenants and my buisness, it is perfectly reasonable that I place a condition on leasing the space that the leaseholder do just that. If they decide to operate an art studio, they are in violation.

            It’s like the anchor tenant in a shopping mall. They can’t use it as warehouse space. It is part of the deal that they run a retail operation.

            The owner of the property perceives that a good will be realized if the property is used in a particular way. They accept bids to perform that use. Failure to perform is a violation of the lease. Because the agreed-upon good is not being provided.

            If you don’t think it’s a good, then BUY the property, don’t try to subvert the owners rights.

            Now I think that the Feds ought to return most of that land to counties and states, so that local control puts “ownership” and decisions about these goods/uses back in the hands of the people who live there,

      2. You really are one dumb motherfucker.

        These aren’t ground leases like when you want to develop a lot, these are mineral extraction leases. You could make a case that the government shouldn’t hold that land or those mineral rights, but that’s not the conversation we’re having.

        1. Did you read the article, DesigNate? It involves a conversation unrelated to the one you describe.

      3. Art,

        DesigNate says, “…that’s not the conversation we’re having.”

        You are hereby accused of introducing un-authorized conversation here! How do you plead?

        (Under my breath… Good job demonstrating the authoritarian bent of many who post here).

        1. Well if it isnt the dumb leading the dumb.

          1. Get an education, JesseAz. Start with standard English.

        2. I’m sorry, how is believing that you should abide by contracts that you voluntarily enter into authoritarian?

          If you, or Artie for that matter, want to have a discussion about how the government shouldn’t own that land or shouldn’t be leasing out mineral rights, I’d be more than happy to.

          But not one person in this thread has said shit about how the government should require certain terms in their EXTRACTION LEASE AGREEMENTS. You know, the things the article is actually about.

          What Artie brought up was some kind of bullshit strawman, trying to paint anyone who thinks that following voluntary contracts is an authoritarian.

          *Personally I think the market could better allocate those resources, but I guarantee you that Artie doesn’t and he’s just upset because drilling hurts mother Gaia’s fefes.

      4. Also, when I buy gold bars, Government Almighty does NOT require me to turn it into jewelry or electroplated goldfingers on circuit boards, or anything else like that. I can hold my gold bars forever, unmodified, unused, pass them on to my heirs, etc. Why can I not do the same thing with oil and gas rights? It is a totally legitimate and pertinent question. I hope that I won’t be brought up on charges!

        1. Why? Because that you actually do the resource extraction was one of the terms of the lease. Didn’t pick up on that?

          1. Not even when pointed out to Arthur did the dummy pick up on that. Sqrsly actually rushed to defend him.

            1. You misunderstand Shawn Regan’s work. Reading it might enable you to become a productive participant in this discussion.

              Or it might not.

              1. No, we understand it perfectly. The environmentalist don’t like the terms of the contracts and think they shouldn’t have to abide by them.

          2. The question is, WHY should it be one of the terms of the lease? Why should the government get to decide that minerals must be extracted now? If keeping the land undisturbed is more valuable to someone, shouldn’t they get the chance to do that? Current rules say no, but those rules can be changed.

            1. Because the land that created the USFS and BLM designated that these leases have to be for the states purposes. Additionally, the USSC has ruled that these leases have to be offered because of prior use that existed before the Government decided to make these protected public lands.

              1. Law not land.

        2. You aren’t “buying” anything here. You are leading certain land from the federal government for a specific purpose. Since it’s public land you can’t buy it (the issue of public land is a whole another issue). If you don’t graze a grazing lease, within the pre-agreed upon terms you lose the lease. It is common even on private property to have restrictions on the terms of a lease. My apartment lease bars me from subletting and sets the date of when I have to pay. The lease I have on my ranch requires certain obligations on my part as well, maintaining fences, Wells, etc as well as certain amount of grazing. Grazing is actually beneficial to grasslands, the science is very strong on this, and it is only right that the leaser makes sure the leasee is practicing best practices. Further, this is public land, they are leading it for the mineral rights, but that is all. If they don’t develop the resource they are in violation of the lease contract. This is not unique to just environmentalist. Any logging, cattle or energy company also is aware of these restrictions. Some do lose their leases as a result of failure to follow the agreed upon contract. These environmentalist are in breach of contract if the lease the land without any intent to follow the rules of the contract. Why is that authoritarian?
          If I lease land to a farmer with the caveat that he/she farms in such and such manner and they decide instead to leave it fallow, don’t I as the land owner have the right to revoke their lease? That is a basic principle of libertarianism, property rights. I am all for ending the federal government’s monopoly on much of the land in the west but that is a whole different issue. Until that happens, when you bid on a ln energy lease or timber lease or grazing lease and you don’t follow the letter of the contract and you lose the lease, that is your fault.

          1. “Further, this is public land, they are leading it for the mineral rights, but that is all. If they don’t develop the resource they are in violation of the lease contract.”

            Um, that is the whole point of dispute in the article- that we should allow people to lease mineral rights, for the express purpose of keeping those minerals in the ground. That would encourage one mechanism (the market pricing of these resources) to help society collectively balance the needs of resources and environmentalism.

            I find it a compelling argument. One of the big points environmentalists call out is that there are these externalities of letting people exploit resources. But if they can purchase leases to prevent exploitation, then many of those externalities can be captured. Ultimately, the cost of exploiting a resource includes the cost necessary to outweigh people who would otherwise like to see the resources untouched.

            Likewise, by preventing environmentalists from purchasing leases, we just encourage them to break the market with laws that don’t cost them a lot of money, and that are not priced into the market.

            1. Your ignoring the prior use that existed on this land before these lands were made public land. The impact on the land and the communities if the environmentalist got their way and the fact that the very laws that created the BLM and USFS designated the land under their control must be available and used for certain purposes.

        3. If you buy gold under the contractual obligation to create jewelry you would in fact be in violation of you didnt create jewelry. You should read the article as well dummy.

          1. It isn’t that I don’t understand the law, or contract law specifically… It is the morality or wisdom of laws like this, that I question. Decades ago, I could put in my land-sales contract, “No dark-skinned people may buy this land, after I sell it, in perpetuity.” Such contracts are now illegal, as they should be. But law-worshipping racist-nationalists like JezzeAZ LIKE contracts like this, when it suits their whims!

            1. Wow, that is almost as bad as bringing Hitler into it. I’ll support ending public land, but until that time, following the fucking contract as signed isn’t authoritarian it is what everyone has to do.

          2. A major reason why I think there is a HUGE amount of injustice and stupidity in the “you must consume / develop the oil and gas right away” laws (contract provisions) here, is, that oil and gas will get more and more valuable (and will be able to be extracted more efficiently) as time goes by. People who want to buy rights (and just SIT ON IT, and not develop it) should be able to be rewarded for their self-discipline (delayed gratification). As things are now, we are biased towards CONSUME NOW!

            Elementary psychology says this mentality is seriously sub-optimal!

            JesseAZ never learned to delay the “let’s pig out now” impulses it seems…

            1. Grasping for straws I see. This is about more than just energy development. This is also common use (many of these groups also try to ban hunting fishing, camping etc on land that they lease). Economically and scientifically best practices, i.e. grazing and logging. They’re like locust who move into an area and try to reshape the local area by outbidding locals with no intent to actually follow the contracts that everyone else has to follow. It is a sense of entitlement on their part.

              1. Not straw-clutching here… This is a very real concern!

                From the article…

                “And royalties derived from oil and gas extraction often provide lucrative revenue streams to federal, state, and local coffers, including public schools. Some are concerned that non-use bidders, to the extent they are allowed to prevail, could jeopardize those revenues.”

                Government Almighty itself is biased here, in favor of “party now, pay later”. It is the same mentality as is behind the ever-growing public debt. Sell off these public lands to private owners, flat-out! The “tragedy of the commons” will be gone, and owners will have reason to maximize the values of their properties! I know, I am dreaming…

                In the meantime, the free market could at least be enabled to get an “even playing field” with the party-now folks… But Government Almighty clearly favors “party now” because it gets them taxes… NOW, not later!

                1. So the local school districts rely on this money, and the local economies rely on it. The federal and state governments recognize this and structure leases to meet that need but you are arguing against this because hypothetically it will be worth more in the future. So instead let’s ruin the current local economy and raise property taxes on locals to support the schools instead. That sounds so libertarian. Actually, as a funding source, the government leasing land is far more libertarian then taxing people (with the caveat that the government should only own land that they purchased rather than confiscated but that’s a ship that already sailed).

                  1. Schools should be privately owned in the first place. One set of Government Almighty sins is used to paper over another set of Government Almighty sins, as usual. And… After you go to school for 20 or 24 years of academic over-doing… You are awarded with the MD-degree-enabled privilege of authorizing people to be allowed to blow on cheap plastic flutes! Yeah for Government Almighty!!!

                    To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

                    1. Schools should be privately funded but if the state is going to be involved I prefer the fund it with land leases then with tax payer dollars.

                  2. Soldier, I think we get that the government is probably doing the best it can in these circumstances, and no one is arguing that someone who violates existing contracts of a lease shouldn’t be held to account.

                    However, I tend to agree that the market could more efficiently handle this. Consider this: One of the biggest distorting factors of mineral rights is environmental regulation. In Colorado, we saw a lot of price swings on mineral rights on private land as well as public depending on what current legislation was making its way through the state.

                    Consider some lease for oil extraction, going up for bid. The companies looking to bid all know that a bunch of environmentalist groups are going to halt any development of that land. Or they are going to make it so expensive as to make the margins miniscule. This tends to push down the clearing price for that lease.

                    On the other hand, if environmentalists and miners both participated in the market, then the environmentalists actually serve to BID UP the cost of resources, compared to when they were legislating it. The miners are ok giving that additional cost to the lease, because they won’t experience those costs in legislation later.

                    To be sure, under a new system, there would be need for many changes. What was once expected in royalties might instead be paid as a premium on the lease cost upon winning. The government gets a payment today for some portion (set by time value of money calculations) of the royalties they’d have gotten in the future. Likewise, if the exploitation was expected to have some other benefit like reduced fire damage, the lease would include assurances that the same benefit is achieved (such as a trust for brush clearing).

                    The point is that markets are way better at integrating these different needs into prices. We can move in that direction without ruining government revenue streams.

                    1. The best option, which the environmentalist are also opposed to, is ending public land.

              2. Well, being entitled to what you pay for seems pretty legitimate.

                1. But they aren’t entitled to it because they are ignoring their contractual obligations.

        4. Squirrels, when you BUY something, say, a bar of gold, or a new car, it is YOURS. All right title interest right of use and to redispose of it as only YOU choose…. comes along with it. You enter into a contract to acquire it.. I will give you THIS (wad of cash, house, forty acre lot, sailboat, whatever) in direct and even exchange for it. NO ocnditions, other than perhaps removing it from where it was when it became YOURS.

          A lease is a different kind of horse…. it always has TERMS, conditions, requirements, fulfilment clauses, time limits, regular payments.. you do not OWN it. Lease a car and try and take it to China. Can’t do it. BUY one, you can. YOu are not required to DRIVE that leased car, but you MUST protect, use for only lawful purposes.. can’t use it for trafficking in drugs or people or arms.

          What most city fokes fail to understand is that land leased for GRAZING is leased for that purpose for a reason.. it NEEDS to be grazed. Land preserved and not used deteriorates.. Biodiversity, health of the land and what is on it, all deteriorate. Floods, fires, etc, are more likely. Rendering the land unfit for future use of any kind often ensues. You buy a LEASE because that is the desired and best use of that land. You want to take control and leave it fallow? Fine. BUY it. Cash outright. Then it will be like your bar of gold, except not very portable. A lot harder to steal, though… unlss you lease it to someone else for cattle grazing and they don’t…..

  3. Why would they need to buy the land? They have a great racket still going with EPA bureaucrats called sue and settle that gets them rights to put restrictions on sold land and even funnels funds to the various activist groups. This practice peaked with Obama’s consent, but is still ongoing.

  4. Yeah man, you hate farting cows? Buy the land yourself, pay all the property taxes, and make sure that no farting cows squat on your land.

    But then, some endangered squirrels will squat on your land instead, and start farting all over the place! And there ain’t squat you can do about THAT, w/o going to jail!

    Thank You Government Almighty, may I have another?

    1. Since we’re talking about public land, no one is buying anything they are leading certain rights of that land, e.g. grazing, timber or mineral rights.

      1. This is entirely too complex for sqrsly.

        1. Slack-jawed bigots are among my favorite faux libertarians. You should read the precipitating article.

          1. Have you ever made an honest point in your life? Or are you incapable of mature debate?

          2. Go die in a fire, pitiful fool.

  5. Oil development? I was told we had peak oil back in the 70’s. There isn’t anymore oil.

  6. “Renting” Anti-Constitutional communistic land they never owned to begin with I see.

    the soils under them, were not granted by the Constitution to the United States, [but were reserved to the States respectively]. Secondly, the new States have the same rights, sovereignty, and jurisdiction over this subject as the original States. Thirdly, the right of the United States to the public lands, and the power of Congress to make all needful rules and regulations for the sale and disposition thereof, [conferred no power to grant to the plaintiffs the land in controversy]

    1. I agree but until the states regain control if you can’t follow the contract then you deserve to lose your lease. This is a question of contract law.

      1. This is the audience your publisher’s website attracts, Shawn Regan.

        Depressing, is it not?

        1. Yes, it is depressing the sophomoric trope you post. Can’t argue the point, ever so you resort to ad hominems.

  7. Undoubtedly, private interests could raise enough money to buy a Yellowstone Park. But, as many Planning/Zoning Commission meetings have demonstrated, very few private citizens want to buy that undeveloped lot next door. They’d rather whine to the local government to seize or otherwise restrict the lot’s owner from “ruining their viewshed” or “causing traffic jams” or “attracting undesirables.”

  8. The western watershed project is a group of assholes whose aim is to end all logging, grazing and energy development. Mr. Marvel is a disingenuous asshat who has sued to stop the straightening of US 95 (over private land the state has already bought) south of Moscow. This stretch is a death trap with fatalities almost every year and is heavily traveled route (being the main route north and south in Idaho and many from southern Idaho who go to University of Idaho in Moscow traveling it often). His sob story about grazing on public land needs historical context. The land was grazed before statehood. Many of the ranches had prior use before the land was turned into public land. As part of the agreement to turn it into public land the state and federal government granted the ranches use in perpetuity. Mr. Marvel moved to Idaho and now wants to destroy this agreement for his stated purpose. He’s another fucking carpetbagger moving into a western state and trying to destroy the local economy because he doesn’t agree with it. Fuck him and the WWP, which is a thorn in everyone’s side. They also protest the fencing of riparian areas, which would cut down on the sediment but still allow grazing. He has sued multiple times to end projects aimed at repairing riparian zones by using wildlife friendly fencing because he wants to end all grazing on public land (the science supports grazing, as it benefits the land rather than degrades it).

    1. Idiots like that don’t have enough functional neurons to understand science. They just want to Feel Good because they’re Doing Something.

  9. PERC and Save Our Gallatin Forests are also disingenuous. They, like the HSUS, talk a good game but practice entirely differently then they talk. This is a totally bullshit, partisan piece and Reason should be ashamed for running it. The writer clearly, falsely makes this a property rights issue when it is actually a contractual issue. These groups are in violation of their lease and they want to whine about it.

    1. The writer clearly, falsely makes this a property rights issue when it is actually a contractual issue.

      Not only is it a contractual issue. It’s a BLM contractual issue. The writer keeps quoting people saying “It’s a market-based approach.” which is utter bullshit; absolutely on par with saying the ACA and Cash-For-Clunkers is a market-based approach.

      If Charles Koch liquidated Koch industries and dumped it into making the ACA “solvent”, Reason would cheer the free market at work.

  10. As a contributor to the Nature Conservancy I have long endorsed the idea of buying land rather than spending on lawsuits. We need to call the cheap sale of mining, logging and grazing rights what it is socialism. I am from Wisconsin and I am not aware of any government program that pays for feeding our dairy cattle. The idea that western welfare ranchers are entitled to cheap grazing is simply wrong. As for the extraction of resources from the land, I wonder how many of those leases sit dormant because the price of the resource has fallen. Well the environmentalist should use the same logic. Just say to the Feds our plan is to extract the resources when the value hits our market target of 3 times the value at the time the lease was let. If they let the mining companies do it so can the environmentalist.

  11. The cattle were grazing that land before the government took it away from the ranchers. The ranchers and loggers have to follow strict regulations and can loose their lease for even a minor violation. Logging and grazing actually improves the health of the land. And if you aren’t aware of money paid to dairies you aren’t very aware of the situation. Dairies receive huge payments from the government. These ranchers and loggers on the other hand pay the fucking government (who took the land from them in the first place) to have the right to graze or log. But that is all they can do. They can’t bar others from using that land for other lawful purposes. I can hunt, camp, hike etc on any grazing allotment or logging allotment I want that is federally or state owned.

    1. I am not aware that the government took land away from anyone other than the indigenous people who were here before the ranchers and loggers. As for paying for the land, the ranchers and loggers are not paying market price. I am for an free market where environmentalist can compete for the resources.

      1. Allowing deep pockets to suppress available resources. What could possibly go wrong?

        Once again proving the old adage, a developer is someone who wants to build cabins in the wilderness, and an environmentalist is someone who already owns a cabin in the wilderness.

        1. Yet you have no problem with deep pockets taking and exploiting those resources. In fact you will sell it to them at bargain prices so they can make more profit.

          And a developer is someone who want to ” take paradise and put up a parking lot”.

          1. Ranchers and loggers have deep pockets? Really? And grazing isn’t exploiting and neither is logging. They actually benefit the land. The science is pretty much unanimous on this.

      2. What part of the ranches were grazing this land before the federal government decided to make it public land do you not understand? The USSC has ruled that these ranches and loggers had prior use. You don’t know the history of the issue obviously. As for the Indians, many of the early ranchers did buy grazing and water rights from the local tribes, but the government refused to recognize those deeds. So once again you demonstrated your misunderstanding of the issue. As for market value, most BLM land is really not worth much, it’s not good enough to grow crops and shouldn’t be developed. Grazing, logging and minerals are it’s only worth. The reason private land is worth so much in these areas is because there is so much public land and it’s difficult to get rights to use public land, so private land is at a premium. Take Lemhi county Idaho for example, one of the largest beef cattle counties in Idaho. Only 7% of the county is private, the rest is federal. So of course private land is worth a premium. But if you opened all that public land for sale prices would plummet. The argument can actually be made that private land in the west is vastly overpriced precisely because so much of the Rocky Mountain west is publicly owned. The value of the land, which is basically only good for grazing, logging and possibly minerals (in areas where minerals are present) is probably much more naturally close to what the federal government leases it for. But because of the scarcity of private land, people think public land is underpriced.

        1. Yep and the distortions lead to all sorts of difficulties. Shoshone County is almost all Federal lands. so has a tremendously limited tax base. But the local ski resort (Silver Mountain) is actually on private land. It recently sold, with the previous owners taking a huge loss. But the County did not want to recognize the new, much lower market valuation, because the revenue loss is that serious, and so now it’s a court fight.

          1. Hagagedon sold Silver Mountain? My father and his Dad worked for Uncle Bunker and my Mom’s Dad worked the Galena and the Page.

            1. City of Kellogg sold it to Eagle Crest/Jeld-Wen back in the mid 90s. They unloaded it in 2013. I didn’t move to the area until 2000. My understanding is that Hagadone and Magnason transferred it to the city back in the mid 80s.

              Left the area in 08, Galena is still operating.

              1. We left the Valley in 1984 after Bunker shut down. My Grandpa retired from the Galena in 1972.

        2. “What part of the ranches were grazing this land before the federal government decided to make it public land do you not understand?”

          The lands were always public. And the world changes and we are not obligated to provide free grazing because that the way it was done for 100 years. If environmental groups want to buy the grazing rights they should be allowed to do so. I also noted that when indigenous peoples complained about the Federal Government selling off resources on land they considered sacred, it was met with deaf ear. Maybe the environmentalist and the indigenous people should be able to buy mineral rights instead of the mining/logging companies.

          1. “…I am not aware that the government took land away from anyone other than the indigenous people…”

            “…The lands were always public…”

            And yet you expect people to take you seriously.

            1. Actually – The land NEVER EVER was/is “public land”. That’s one of things that separate’s the USA from a full-fledged communist country. Short of National Parks agreed with by State/Owner contract and Washington D.C.

              All other property is WAITING for the federal government to PRINT land title’s for it. It is LAND-IN-LIMBO it is land for “sale & disposition” as so well stated in the Constitution and outlined in the Land Ordinance Act. Thus is why for over 100-years there was the Homesteading Act……

              In 1976 the communists in our federal government decide to make the USA 28% Communist by cancelling the Homesteading Act and passing the entirely UN-Constitutional and communist FLPMA act. Which basically said; the USA is now 28% Communist and we’ll just TAKE all that land we’re suppose to be titling and hold it.

              It’s exactly like a title company holding housing title hostage and not releasing them because, “Oh, well, what are you going to do about it.”

          2. Actually, the courts have ruled that the federal government has to offer leases for grazing as their was a prior use by the ranches. So take it up with the USSC.

          3. Indians (I grew up on the reservation and they prefer the term American Indian, at least most do) actually sold a lot of these rights to early settlers, but the federal government refused to acknowledge those sales when they created these public lands. Additionally, many of the historic ranches (grazing deeds are deeded as part of the historic ranch and those holding the deed have first shot at the grazing and timber leases) had established prior use, did improvements etc, in good faith and it was perfectly legal. Then Teddy Roosevelt and his ilk decided to take it away by goat. The USSC thus ruled that because the ranchers weren’t compensated and lost land that they had a prior use on, that the grazing leases/deeds would be held in perpetuity for the use of the historic ranch. You keep ignoring the actual history.

            1. *by fiat not by goat, though taking it by goat would be interesting.

              1. I’m imagining armed dwarves riding in on armored goats. Sounds fun.

                1. Gives a whole new meaning to The Rough Riders.

  12. The answer, often occasionally, is not that he won’t but that he can’t.

    FIFY, you disingenuous shitbags.

  13. I had this argument with several of my enviro/conservationist friends and have struggled for the free market solution. If there were 70 million hunters, fisherman, atv-ers & hikers, could they come up with enough money to purchase/lease federal land? It appears that it wouldn’t matter since the current rules would require development of the land, no matter the money being raised. The web of govt on federal and state levels make this a nightmare to unwind. Unfortunately, the best solution (if preservation of wild lands is the goal) may be the status quo until the Fed govt is dissolved. I do not believe the states are great at managing public land, i.e. the indecipherable web of regs and no entry (80%) on state trust lands in Colorado even though hundreds of thousands of outdoorsmen visit every year. If these lands were sold to private companies/individuals, outdoor recreation in the West would be changed forever.

    1. No, the author is being disingenuous. The leases he is talking about are actually leading the right to do certain activities. If you bid on a grazing lease and don’t graze you are in breach of contract (the range management planners actually factor grazing into their management plan and by not grazing you are diminishing the health of the land). If I own farm land and lease it to a farmer and he doesn’t actually farm it, he is in breach of contract. By bidding on these leases they are agreeing to the perimeters of the lease. If they want a conservation lease then they can petition for that, but for the author to pretend like this is some diabolic scheme is pure, utter bullshit. They knew the terms of the lease. They chose to ignore them and think they are special because they are doing it for a “good cause” despite often being wrong about the science (and thus doing more harm then good). They had no intention of abiding by the lease and are now crying that they lost the lease. It is akin to me deciding, despite my lease forbidding it, for me to sublet my apartment.

      1. The ‘hero’ of this story is a guy who bid at action with no ability or intention to pay.

        Fuck that asshole and his asshole buddy the author.

      2. “By bidding on these leases they are agreeing to the perimeters of the lease.”
        But who is dictating the terms of the lease? Why should it not be ok to buy a lease that say you can graze or also not graze. You can mine the land or not mine the land.

        1. “But who is dictating the terms of the lease?”

          The landowner.

          “Why should it not be ok to buy a lease that say you can graze or also not graze.”

          Nobody has said the landowner should be prevented from offering whatever terms the landowner desires.

          1. If the owners of this land (we the people) do not want to promote maximization of the available resources then they certainly can request their elected representatives direct the BLM – or whatever agency – to change the terms of their leases.

            The author thinks he’s being clever by using ‘market based’ arguments to do an end around of a political process.

            Stupid author.

            1. Also note that they are not advocating privatization of ownership, merely a change in the management of the properties to better suit their preferred outcomes.

              1. They whole-heartedly oppose privatization. They want the government to control it but in the way they want, not they way the law actually reads and what is consistent with USSC precedent.

        2. By law, the federal government, has designated this land for certain uses. Read the laws that formed the USFS and BLM. The land must be used for certain uses, including it must be open to hunting, fishing, grazing, logging, firewood collection, and mineral rights. The law hasn’t changed much since the early 20th century. One of the arguments made for granting the federal government ownership was that these activities would not be forbidden but may be regulated. The environmental groups (most of which claim non-profit status) now want to circumvent these laws and destroys whole communities. Farmers, ranchers, loggers etc are classified as for profit and thus are not able to bid against these out of state organizations. These organizations claim tourism dollars will make up for the loss, however multiple studies have found this to be false. Additionally, a good portion of our beef grazes public land (not a majority but a significant percentage). If we ended grazing by allowing these organizations to circumvent the law and ignore the contracts everyone else has to abide by everyone who eats beef will be harmed as well. Not to mention the detrimental impact on the land. The science is sound on this as well. Grazing and logging improves the health of grasslands and forests and decreases the impact of wildfires.

      3. It is akin to me deciding, despite my lease forbidding it, for me to sublet my apartment.


        Maybe even better stated as leasing office space and then housing homeless people there because housing homeless is a moral good.

        1. I won’t go that far. Because managed grazing (you should see how involved a grazing plan must be to meet requirements to be accepted) and managed logging are beneficial for the forests and grasslands. Ending these activities would actually harm these lands.

          1. And probably increase expenses for fire mitigation activities.

            1. Yes we saw that in the Clearwater in 2015. They couldn’t control the fire on unmanaged National forest and instead fought it on managed state land.

              1. Fought and got it under control on State and private land which had been managed with logging I should say.

  14. So the next time you hear an environmental activist saying we need to save the trees or a Green New Dealer calling to abolish “farting cows,” you might wonder what’s preventing him from paying to do so right now. The answer, often, is not that he won’t but that he can’t.

    Until he can. Then he won’t.

  15. Associated can of worms that I have read about…

    Native American ownership and governance of natural resources

    From there…
    “Regardless, a tribe or individual cannot develop their natural resources without the federal government’s approval.”

    Let me translate that for you… Native Americans supposedly “own” their reservation lands. Yet they have who knows how many dirt-poor, unemployed young men and women who COULD be out there digging up fossils on “their” land, and selling them to willing buyers. Yet they don’t have PhDs in fossil-ology! So in many-many cases, there is a VAST shortage of legal “qualified” fossil hunters. The fossils slowly wash out to sea, lost to science forever. Because of too much Government Almighty micro-management! And due to too much distrust in the simple rules of simple property ownership!

    1. Yes. trust land is a massive can of worms – do a search for the name Eloise Cobell for a primer on just how bad it is. But we all know collectives are bad, so what else is new?

      And your link makes it quite clear that, for reservation lands held fee simple, the rules are not so.

      ” For more detail on the leasing process for individually-owned minerals, see…”

      1. Yes… And feeding frenzies for lawyers! Here’s more about fossils… Land surface rights or sub-surface mineral rights?

        Are dinosaur fossils minerals? Over $15 million—and potentially much more—rides on the answer
        By Ephrat LivniNovember 9, 2019

        1. Not to be cynical, but growing up on the Rez, one of my experiences (and it holds true for the Rez I live next to now to) is the tribes tend to be all about their heritage if there is a monetary incentive to. But as soon as there is an incentive not to the forget all about the sacredness of their land. I know it’s cynical but most anyone who has spent any length of time on a reservation will tell you much the same.

          1. Including many of my Indian friends.

          2. Used to work for the Indian Health Service, I can confirm that “sacred ground” is sometimes nothing more than the excuse for a shakedown.

            1. That’s what happened at Standing Rock. The story the media didn’t tell was that the tribe originally agreed to the pipeline, and let it cross the reservation then tried to extort more money. The construction company decided to reroute it around the reservation and the tribe began to protest. And a good portion of the tribe still wanted the pipeline (they were being employed to build it and making money off the construction workers). Most the protestors where from out of state and the tribe even got sick of them. The protestors actually ended up polluting a good portion of their camp which eventually washed into the very River they were trying to “protect”.

  16. Or a bigger question, why is there even a BLM, state or federal owned lands along with the bureaucracies and strings attached on sales and leases of them? That’s a better idea than fighting over whether the government should favor environmentalists or ranchers or oil drilling companies with these sale/lease contract stipulations.

    1. It’s a good question. But these same environmental groups, including the authors own group have attacked the Greg Gianforte and Senator Daines every time they’ve tried to end federal control of public land in the west. The Western Watersheds Project has done similar to the Idaho delegations. The author knows this but acts as if his group actually supports property rights (they’ve also sued to end buffalo hunts on private land outside of Yellowstone). The

      1. These groups are lying through their teeth about their goals.

  17. Leasing isn’t buying. The whole headline is mendacious crap.

    1. It’s the new strategy, similar to how HSUS grew out of PETA. They are trying to soften their image while standing for the same bullshit. The author claims his group (and groups like Save Gallatin Forest and WWP) are not interested in totally eliminating logging, mining and grazing and that they are reasonable. But anyone who has dealt with them knows it is a load of horseshit.

  18. I agree somewhat that private organizations should buy up land to protect it, such as the Nature Conservancy does, however there are still plenty of problems with that.

    1.Private organizations can restrict citizens’ access to land.

    2.Tragedy of the Commons – Everyone can benefit from it’s protection but no one wants to pay since others will instead. “Equal benefit, unequal contribution.”

    3.Private organizations can change their decisions in the future.

    also check out ez battery reconditioning program

    1. The Nature Conservatory allows grazing (they actually promote it) and some logging on the conservation easements. The mistake these other organizations, and many urban dwellers, make is that they think any use is bad. But manager logging and grazing is actually better then no logging or grazing. The science is very definitive about this. Even the vast majority of American Indians practiced some forms of land management. Burning and clearing forests. Burning underbrush. Burning grasslands etc. To pretend like they are returning to the way nature intended is purely fantasy. The prairies evolved with grazing by large ruminants and their health diminishes without active grazing. The forests today are overcrowded, with to many young trees. The author talks about the decreased grazing and logging but he skirts the issue that these decreases weren’t voluntarily undertaken but were forced upon the locals by groups exactly like his. And overcrowded forests have contributed to devastating wildfires and disease outbreaks. These fires burn far to hot and far to fast, destroying and sterilizing the soil, delaying regrowth and increasing erosion. Natural fire in a low density forest tends to burn very slowly, only in the underbrush and rarely very hot. It replenishes the soil. But these unnaturally overcrowded forests have changed that dynamic. The same can be said of grasslands. To much grass litter (dead grass or dudf) chokes out forbs (many of which are listed as endangered) decreases grass health, decreases decomposition, decreases water absorption in the soil, making plants far more susceptible to drought (which is very common on the prairie). It also decreases the nutrient content of plants. This all impacts wildlife negatively and makes wildfires far more destructive and frequent. These sterilizing wildfires and bullshit, non-science based regrazing restrictions after fire- pushed by environmentalist against the wishes of actual range scientist and range conservation officers in the BLM and USFS- promotes the growth of introduced grasses and noxious weeds, while harming native grasses and forbs. The Nature Conservatory is one of the few (a few sportsman groups are okay too, but they are becoming infested with anti-logging and anti-grazing zealots) that realizes the importance of disturbance for ecosystem health and thus promote logging (managed) and grazing.

  19. I suppose the government’s argument will be “well, if you’re sitting on said leases, you’re hording, possibly in the hopes of acting as a monopoly to drive up the price of oil.”

    I mean, technically, all drillers could try to collude to do that, and collectively charge more for the resource. And I suppose an environmentalist just sitting on said resource can contribute to that inadvertently, even if s/he isn’t part of said conspiracy.

    I am not saying I agree with that argument, just that that will likely be the argument. Even (some) libertarians support anti-trust laws to certain extent if there’s clear collution. So I guess I can kinda of ****almost**** see their point. Almost.

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