Heinrich Still Doesn’t Get It


“We have, over time, lost access to a lot of public lands.”

That’s Martin Heinrich, in an address to “conservationists” in Las Cruces on Saturday. (Look — he wore a camouflage vest!)

It was another admission of reality from a politician who stands firmly opposed to a solid solution to access squabbles: Transferring “federal” lands to state governments. In 2014, Heinrich penned a hysterical op-ed for The New York Times in which he claimed that doing so “would raise the possibility that some of the lands would be turned over to the highest bidder and that Western taxpayers would be saddled with the costs of overseeing the rest.”

Contrary to the claims of Heinrich and his deep-pocketed allies in the “green” lobby, the campaign against Washington’s distant, and agenda-driven, management of so much of the West isn’t an attempt to reward energy companies and despoil some of the nation’s most scenic terrain. It’s a logical reform of a system that isn’t working — a shift that promises better control of wildfires and more economic development (and tax revenue) for rural communities. And it’s been done before. As the American Land Council explains, in the 19th century, Congress relinquished its holdings in “western” states such as Michigan, Illinois, Alabama, and Florida.

Heinrich continues to peddle his “HUNT Act” as a tool to grant hunters and anglers better access to federal land. But the legislation is just more of the same. The answer is to get Washington out of the land business (excepting existing National Parks) altogether.