The Sagebrush Rebellion – Conclusion

The Sagebrush Rebellion – Conclusion                                                                                      

Currently, the BLM administers more than 264 MILLION acres of public land, primarily in the West.  The BLM also administers 700 MILLION acres of subsurface mineral estate (per their own publications).  “Locking up access to our nation’s abundant resources has needlessly placed America at the mercy of foreign powers for essential materials such as timber and rare earth minerals vital to our country” (, as well as killing off many, many ranch businesses and impacting the western way of life which breathes freedom and love of country and nature into all of us. THIS is what the Sagebrush Rebellion is all about.  
This conclusion is a tribute to brave Americans like the Bundys, Hages, Hammonds and others who bravely chose to take a stand against the tyranny of the Federal government.
 In 1976, the Sagebrush Rebellion once again gained momentum when congress passed the FLPMA, which stated that most National Forest Service and BLM land would NEVER be released to state or private control.  The bill was designed under the assumption that the economic benefits would prove too tempting to local authorities (as opposed to the FEDS!) and environmental concerns would be ignored in favor of fast cash.  Although provisions were made to continue using resources for mining, logging, grazing and ranching, the legislation also included preservation measures and heavily restricted these activities.
Environmental regulations protecting endangered species reduced available land and resources.  From 1977 to 1980, President Jimmy Carter set aside 37.8 MILLION acres of federal land, previously available for commercial use, for national parks and protected reserves.  These reserves also had an impact on the surrounding lands, such as interrupted irrigation and making previously productive farmland unusable.
Supporters of the Sagebrush Rebellion felt that their land was being stolen from them and resented the further loss of control.  Some felt that Carter, who failed to win a single one of the 12 continental western states during the presidential election was punishing the entire region.  Grassroots support sprung up across the west.
More recently, the federal appetite for usurping Western lands has grown.  More than a dozen pristine landscapes, wildlife habitats and scenic rivers in 11 Western states, some larger than Rhode Island and  Delaware combined, are under consideration by the Obama administration to become America’s newest National Monuments – a decision the administration can make unilaterally without local input or congressional approval.  Does this sound like political retribution to you???
Using the Antiquities Act, President Carter locked up more land than any other president before him, taking more than 50 million acres in Alaska despite strong opposition from the state.    President Clinton used the authority 22 times to prohibit hunting, recreational vehicles, mining, forestry and even grazing in 5.9 million acres scattered around the country.  The law allowed him to single-handedly create 19 new national monuments and expand three others without consulting anyone.
One of the monuments President Clinton created was the Grande Staircase-Escalante in Utah, where 135,000 acres of land were leased for oil and gas and about 65,000 barrels of oil were produced each year from five active wells.  But President Clinton put an end to developing those resources.  written by Sen. Jim DeMint, SC in 2010
 In Idaho, one of the current battles has been over the Boulder White Cloud National Monument; President Obama planned to remove this land from public use through Executive Order and set it up as a monument “for its own protection” which would result in the demise of jobs and resources in an already economically-compromised part of Idaho.  Idaho’s Rep. Simpson proudly got his “wilderness bill” passed instead, which killed the “monument” drive but still succeeded in barring any mechanized (trail bikes, snowmobiles, motors of any type, chainsaws, etc.) access to another 500,000 acres of American western wilderness, as well as denying access to western resources on and under the land.
So What’s it Really All About?
Wayne Hage said in a radio interview at WTZY in Ashville, NC more than a decade ago that he believed all of this has to do with our national debt.  “During the Civil War, we accumulated $2.8 billion worth of debt which the North owed mainly to the House of Erlinger in London and the House of Rothchild in Paris, who had financed both sides in the War.  We couldn’t pay the debt, so for the first time in our nation’s history, they decided to collateralize that debt with the mineral estate of the Western lands and Alaska.  During the late 1800’s we were able to internalize that debt to where we owed it to ourselves.
“In the 1960’s the general teaching of Economics 101 was that we shouldn’t worry too much about our national debt as we owed it to ourselves, and hence, it wouldn’t have to be paid off.  Besides all that gold, silver, gas, oil and other mineral rights out west more than adequately collateralize it.”   From David Morgan’s investigative story, The  Ashville Tribune in 1999.
As we all know, that is no longer true and the vultures are circling in the form of foreign countries who have collateralized our ever-mounting debt.  Vast swaths of American resources are no longer ours, and we slept through the whole thing.  Makes you wonder how much of Idaho Gov. Otter has compromised to bring Chinese business here (i.e.  the 50-mile self-contained Chinese city to be plopped in our back yard as an Economic Zone where foreigners can come to work and live (Free Trade Zones tend to be located near airports, with easy access into the continental NAFTA and WTO transportation systems to move goods quickly and cheaply with special US Customs treatment).  Never mind the massive national security threat they represent and whether anyone will be monitoring what is being imported/exported. But that’s a whole other newsletter . .
Much has also been made of western states’ low revenue-per-student ratios (particularly in Idaho) – and that ratio is at the bottom of the national average because western states don’t have access to the resources of their states to fund education as states in the east do.
There is more than $150 TRILLION dollars of mineral value locked up in the federally controlled lands (Institute for Energy Research). Billions in education funding sitting . . . or being sucked out of the states for the federal coffers . . . .

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Western politicians, school boards, political subdivisions and teachers’ unions keep screaming that statistic and want to raise taxes, pass levies and bonds, etc, etc.  Why aren’t they screaming for access to their state’s rich resources to fund schools?  It’s been done before successfully by other states.
More oil than Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world combined is locked up in federal lands – locking up jobs, economic growth and opportunity not only in the west but throughout the nation (American Lands Council).
As much as 90% of all lands in Illinois and Missouri (and AL, LA, AR, IN, FL, etc.) were federally controlled for decades! With so much land under federal control, these States persistently argued they could not:
◦adequately fund education,
◦grow their economies, or
◦responsibly manage their abundant resources.
They banded together, refused to be silent or take “NO” for an answer, and compelled Congress to transfer title to their lands. In 1959, Congress granted directly to the State of Hawaii (the last and western-most State) “the United States’ title to all the public lands … within the boundaries of the State of Hawaii, title to which is held by the United States immediately prior to its admission into the Union.” © 2014 American Lands Council |
Utah filed a federal lawsuit proceeding to get Utah’s lands back from the Feds.  Idaho and several other western states wanted to join the action, but Utah said “wait until we see what the reaction is with our suit” to keep our options open.  Utah gave the feds an ultimatum of “give us our land by December 31, 2014.”  Utah was already establishing the grounds for that future meeting, but, predictably, nothing happened. Like most westerners, Utahns are enraged about  federal control of land and purse strings.
In 2012, Utah passed the  Transfer of Public Lands Act, essentially demanding that the federal government surrender the two-thirds of the state controlled by Washington, D.C.  Other western states are considering  similar measures, but Utah paved the way.
Utah is preparing to go a step further and plans for a future that isn’t funded by federal largesse. The state passed a series of bills as part of a Financial Ready Utah movement. The problem, as the group backing the move  explains, is that “More than 40 cents of every dollar the state of Utah spends comes from the federal government that borrows and/or prints more than 40 cents of every dollar it sends to Utah.” Since “The current fiscal trajectory of the federal government is unsustainable,” (a point agreed to by the Congressional Budget Office), Utahns foresee a day when whatever they want done will have to be paid by local funds.  I hope other western states are doing something similar post-haste too.
In Idaho, Rep. Lawrence Denny spearheaded the fight and got HCR 21 passed by both houses to authorize a Legislative Council study committee to develop a process for the State of Idaho to acquire title to and control of public lands controlled by the federal government in the State of Idaho.  http://www.legislature.idaho.gove/legislation/2013/HCR021.htm
From Utah Rep. Ken Ivory, leading Utah’s fight:
“Yet, what we know from the U.S. Government Accountability Office is that there’s more recoverable oil in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming than the rest of the world combined. There’s a study from earlier this year by the Institute for Energy Research that there’s $150 trillion in mineral value locked up in the federally controlled lands throughout the West. Right now the forests—which were a renewable resource, with the revenue funding schools, roads and public safety—have been shut down to timber harvesting, and now they’re basically tinder boxes. We’ve got so much dead wood standing in the forests that, in fact, the FBI is even warning our state foresters that terrorists are encouraging wildfires as a form of jihad. The forests are so dense now that the trees can’t defend themselves and fend off natural diseases and pests, so forests throughout the West are largely dead or dying just waiting for any spark to ignite the next catastrophic wildfire.
“So we looked at these conditions. And as you pointed out, more than 50% of all land in the western United States is owned and controlled by the federal government. This is in a nation that was founded on the principles of inherent, inalienable rights to life, liberty and property. World-renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith made a statement in the mid-1980s that “where the socialized ownership of land is concerned, only the U.S.S.R. and China can claim company with the United States.”
Ivory says the enabling acts authorizing statehood for western states, including Utah,  contain the same language about transfer of public lands from the federal government to state authorities as the enabling acts for states such as Nebraska. But the transfers took place for Nebraska and other states, and not for their counterparts further west. That’s the lynchpin for the drive to take control of lands that are now claimed by the federal government, and to gain the financial benefits from them.
Here is a comparison of the Enabling Acts between Idaho and North Dakota, which was successful  in getting its federal lands back:


 You can see that they are virtually identical, so Idaho and other western states should have legal precedence going into this battle.  And a battle it will be!!
What can we mere mortals do?
Please get involved and stay informed.  See what you can do by going to the American Lands Council.   It’s time to man up, Minutemen, and stand with great cowboys like Wayne Hage, the Bundys and the Hammonds!  Stay on top of your legislators who are giving away our heritage, our resources and our water rights by the thousands of acres every session.