From the August 2000 Idaho Observer:

Congress continues land grab

By The Idaho Observer

Last month we reported that Senator Craig (R-Idaho) is supportive, at least in principle, of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) which will redirect $billions in offshore oil drilling royalties into the hands of bureaucrats who will use them to fund off budget environment-enhancing projects and federal land acquisitions.

On top of CARA, the Endangered Species Act, The Heritage Rivers Initiative, The Clean Water Act and the Wetlands Initiative, the Clinton/Gore Roadless Area Initiative, all of which are designed to place both public and private lands (and, therefore, their resources) into the regulatory control of the federal government, is HR 488.

Introduced by Representative Christopher Shays (D-Conn.) February 2, 1999, the bill apparently sat inactive for over a year until being recently revived. HR 488 intends “to designate as wilderness wild and scenic rivers, national park and preserve study areas, wild land recovery areas, and biological connecting corridors certain public lands in the States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, and for other purposes.”

Dubbed on Capitol Hill as the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), the bill reportedly has 106 sponsors and is gaining ground.

The Wild Rockies Alliance, an environmentalist group which favors passage of the bill, wants the federal government to protect the area because, “The Northern Rocky Mountain bioregion encompasses the last great expanse of native biodiversity in the contiguous United States.”

The group claims “America's Serengeti” is the only bioregion which still contains all species present at the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition. “Populations of bison, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear, goshawk, elk, caribou, bull trout and mountain lion roam the region's temperate forests, alpine tundra, and desert canyons.”

If members of the Wild Rockies Alliance would ever tour a federal military base or see a forest after the U.S. Forest Service has completed a logging operation, they might not be so confident that HR 488 is the answer to preserving the integrity of the region.

If passed, on top of the federal government's other myriad land grab laws, NREPA will control more than 20 million acres of public lands throughout the Northwest. The bill will officially recognize biological corridors similar to those identified in the much publicized Wildlands Project.

The bill also designates 1,800 miles of new Wild & Scenic Rivers. Two-thousand, three-hundred new government “wildlands restoration” jobs will be created.

On a fiscal note, NREPA is being sold to Congress as a way to save taxpayers over $100 million by preventing below-cost timber sales and by eliminating taxpayer-subsidized road-building in the national forests.

With thanks to Dani Hansen, President, Idaho Citizens Eagle Forum:

Note: The west is currently on fire -- new fires are popping all over the place on an almost daily basis. Traditionally the dominant media has reported that the “authorities” have either determined the cause of the fire or the cause is under investigation. Until lately. Strangely, the dominant media is not reporting that the cause has been determined for the blazes, nor is it reporting that the cause is under investigation. Why? The forests of the Northwest have been managed by the federal government in such a way as to cultivate ground fuel that will readily ignite under certain circumstances. If the press is not reporting the cause of the fires, can we guess who (what) is starting them? Is this another land grab mechanism?

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