This land is your land (for a price)

Posted on Thu, Feb. 09, 2006
Bush administration moves to sell national forest land
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration will unveil a proposal Friday to sell up to 200,000 acres of national forest land in “isolated parcels” ranging from a quarter of an acre to 200 acres, much of it in California.

The sale is part of a National Forest Service plan to raise $800 million over the next five years to pay for rural schools in 41 states, offsetting shrinking revenues from sale of timber from national forests. The Bureau of Land Management also plans to sell federal lands to raise an estimated $182 million over five years.

Environmentalists charge that the short-term gain would be more than offset by the loss of public land. Congress would have to approve the land sales, but it has rejected similar recent proposals.

“I am outraged, and I don’t think the public is going to stand for it for one minute,” said Wilderness Society policy analyst Mike Anderson. “It’s a scheme to raise money at the expense of the national forests, the wildlife, recreation and all the other values that Americans hold dear. It’s the ultimate threat to the national forest.”

Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said the proposed land sales make sense.

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