Wednesday, 23 April 2014 16:00

Lawmakers Unveil Plan to Liberate Western Lands and Evict Feds

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With the now-infamous federal abuses against the Bundy ranching family and its supporters in Nevada helping to awaken a sleeping giant, liberty-minded elected officials from Western states are coming together with citizens to take action in defense of the Constitution and the West. Their mission: to wrest control over the vast expanses of land and wealth in the region that are unconstitutionally claimed by the Washington, D.C.-based political and bureaucratic classes. Now, a new alliance of lawmakers and citizens has a concrete plan to make those goals a reality.   

As The New American reported this week, more than 50 elected officials from nine Western states met on April 18 at the Utah Capitol for the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Lands. Among them were state House speakers, state senators, a U.S. senator, county commissioners, and more. The goal, multiple organizers and attendees explained, is to strip the federal government of the almost 50 percent of land in Western states that it claims to “own” in defiance of the U.S. Constitution and various agreements.      

One of the lawmakers who participated, Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, a liberty-minded Republican who also stood with the Bundy family, says that lawmakers from Western states are determined to protect the Constitution and their constituents. “Legislators from across the West are saying enough is enough,” Rep. Shea told The New American after the summit in Salt Lake City. “We are banding together to fight federal overreach wherever it rears its ugly head, not just talk about it.”

To do that, last week, another alliance of lawmakers, citizens, businessman, ranchers, sheriffs, officials, and more came together and created the Coalition of Western States United Against Tyranny, or COWS for short. Already, the network has seen phenomenal growth, with more than 25 lawmakers joining up by April 22, Rep. Shea explained. “COWS has grown massively in just one week and legislators from all over the West are jumping on board,” he said, adding that he was “absolutely” optimistic about their prospects for success.

COWS advocates a five-step process to evict the self-styled federal landlords from the Western United States, Rep. Shea explained. In the short term, county governments should draw up management plans for the land in coordination with state and federal agencies. Already, federal law requires that U.S. bureaucracies work with local officials, though in practice, that rarely happens. At the same time, states should also introduce and pass legislation to prohibit any net loss of private land to government.

In the longer term, federally (mis)managed lands should be transferred over to state authorities, “because government closest to the people is best,” Rep. Shea continued. “The federal government cannot possibly know how best to manage land in the thousands of different locales like the people of those areas could,” the popular Republican lawmaker explained, echoing the sentiments of countless other policymakers and activists who say the federal government needs to be stripped of its vast, unconstitutional land holdings.

“Clearly,” Shea says, “the people of Western states would do a better job managing those lands.” In fact, among the most common complaints on the issue in the West is the fact that the feds have done a terrible job maintaining the land they purport to own — especially when compared with the areas managed by state and local governments, or even private citizens. The COWS lawmakers said an excellent, proven process for transferring federally managed lands into state control has been laid out by the American Lands Council and others.

Then there is the issue of keeping promises. As the Western territories were officially becoming states, like in the East, the federal government agreed to eventually transfer those lands. However, as with so many other promises made by the D.C.-based political class, so far, it has not been fulfilled. “The enabling acts of the Western States make it clear the federal government was meant to be a steward only until such time that the states could manage,” Rep. Shea explained.

The state of Utah has taken the strongest action thus far toward ensuring that the feds comply. In 2012, lawmakers passed and the governor signed a law demanding that the federal government relinquish control over much of the estimated two-thirds of territory inside Utah’s borders it claims to control. The law specifically cited those agreements from when Utah joined the Union, threatening a lawsuit if Washington, D.C., refuses to comply. 

Perhaps the most important issue at play in the whole land issue, though, is the U.S. Constitution. “Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution spells out what types of property the federal government can ‘own’,” Rep. Shea continued, pointing out that, outside of a few limited exceptions, it is not constitutional for Washington, D.C., to own or control land — much less half of the Western United States, and as much as 85 percent of some states such as Nevada.    

Rep. Shea also pointed to The Federalist, No. 45, which (he notes) “makes clear the intent” of America’s Founding Fathers. “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined,” the document states. “Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

Eventually, also in the long term, some of the land wrested from the federal government should be sold off to private parties “as required in the enabling acts of most of the states,” Rep. Shea continued. Indeed, numerous lawmakers and analysts say at least some of that land should be privatized, allowing the Western states to boost their economy and tax base while extending private-property rights to a broader area and a potentially greater number of individuals. Exactly how much land should be kept in the hands of state and local authorities could be decided going forward. 

The economic and environmental benefits, though, would be significant. “It would have a massive positive impact putting that land back into productive use for both the economy and the tax base,” Rep. Shea explained, again echoing the recently expressed concerns of dozens of powerful lawmakers and countless Western-state citizens, with some estimates suggesting that there is around $150 trillion in mineral wealth alone. “In fact, in the enabling act that brought Washington State into the Union, the proceeds from a portion of the sale of that land must go to specifically funding education.” 

Finally, the fifth step in the process would be to disarm federal bureaucrats — a demand that is growing increasingly urgent after the federal terror unleashed by heavily armed Bureau of Land Management officials against the Bundy family and friends in Nevada. “This is not an isolated incident and is part of a broader war on rural America,” Rep. Shea explained. “Bureaucratic rules and regulations are functionally disallowing the viable economic use of large swaths of land in the West. Regardless, a sniper rifle and killing instead of seizing cattle is not due process.”

With the public increasingly galvanized against federal abuses and lawlessness after the Bundy ranch fiasco, now is a perfect time for state governments and the American people to put the U.S. government back in its constitutional cage where it belongs — and where it cannot send in heavily armed storm troopers to terrorize ranchers and protesters over alleged unpaid “fees” or tortoises. The alternative is more and more Bundy ranch-style paramilitary disasters, along with eventual tyranny. With optimistic Western lawmakers making strong and popular moves to protect liberty and evict the feds, though, liberty-minded Americans have good reason to be optimistic as well.


Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, environment, politics, and more. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU.

Related articles:

Western States Want Feds to Surrender “Federal” Land

War on the West: Why More Bundy Standoffs Are Coming

Feds Exploit “Threatened” Bird for Massive Land Grab

Questions Raised About Senator Reid’s Connection to Bundy Ranch Dispute

Burning Up the West: Feds, Greens Cause Catastrophic Fires

Judge Blasts Federal Conspiracy; Ranch Family Vindicated — Again!

The EPA's Property Wrongs in America

Eco-Villains? No — Just Pawns in the Federal Land-grab Scam

This Land Is My Land — Isn't It?

National Heritage Areas: The Land Grabs Continue

The Real Agenda Behind UN “Sustainability” Unmasked


  • Comment Link G V Herr Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:44 posted by G V Herr

    Illinois needs more taxes so we plan on taking the lower 50 miles of Wisconsin and the upper 50 miles of Indiana and tax the crap out of those people. I can't believe Quinn had not thought of this easy budget fix.

  • Comment Link Nora Wednesday, 23 April 2014 22:02 posted by Nora

    This is a good sign--people standing up to tyranny and making the feds retreat like the Redcoats they are. I believe people all over this country have had enough. The Liberty movement is gaining momentum and I think we'll see arrest warrants issued for Holder, Kerry and Obama for their treason. Those mafioso s in congress will be held accountable too, who played a role in the international banker takeover, for their treason. We the people need to remember that we are the masters. We created the federal creature, and we have a duty to get rid of it now that it's rotted, we are under no obligation to bend at the knee.

    No one rules, if nobody obeys.

  • Comment Link rock Wednesday, 23 April 2014 20:38 posted by rock

    Now that's what I'm talkin' bout!!! America resurrected from the ashes!! God Save The Republic!!!

  • Comment Link Frank M. Pelteson Wednesday, 23 April 2014 20:24 posted by Frank M. Pelteson

    If the Constitutional Convention goes through, it will be too late for the legislators to prevent the federal land grab. It is important to go to and take action.

  • Comment Link BOB WILLS Wednesday, 23 April 2014 20:20 posted by BOB WILLS

    "Hello: When Are Americans Going To Wake Up?-God Bless America!
    Semper Fi!

    Well, Jake I understand your frustrations, but Americans are already Awake but just need to ACT on what they know for sure. If the evidence has not made them furious and angry enough that we don't move against the FEDS w/ the power to revolt w/arms and do this w/ a militia of men...they are simply NOT going to do anything. A leader needs to evolve and organize. We don't have to know who he is by name. This group here and that group there, separate but unified to make all HELL break loose in different places at the same time against the Federal Government. Before citizens can make a showing they have to have a plan to do just that, w/ some Feds being killed and maybe even some citizens dying. Remember when the militias when England came here to take over the new America...they had to shoot and run. At first start, that is the way it will be, till others are inspired to load up their guns and go against the government and local law enforcement. Hand grenades would be an asset for sure, I just don't carry one in my pocket all the time....But my hope is this,...that it starts tomorrow morning before daylight.

  • Comment Link Tionico Wednesday, 23 April 2014 18:53 posted by Tionico

    That last listed should be the first enacted. Its basis is whooly constitutional. Federal government do NOT have law enforcement powers throughout the several states, yet one would never guess that today, unless one knows the contents of that Document. I'll lay high stakes at long oddes fewer than three percent of those armed federal operatives who infested Clark County Nevada with their illegal presence earlier this month realise that what they were doing goes against several parts of our Constitution... beginning with their very presence, adding armed and playing beat cop. Those snipers set in the hills were the most egregious violaters: the death penalty is never appropriate for failure to pay fees for service, and certainly not for tresspass.

    FedGov will holler and squall, but it is of no use: they are already in violation of clear laws, and have no counter. Those lands already belong to the several states in which they are situate. It remains only for FedGov to admit it and cede their false control back to their rightful owners.

    I am quite pleased to see the governments of our Western States rising up to take a firm stand, and return these lands to we who ilve here. For too long we have endured the loss of revenue, either directly for loss of use and gain from the lands, revenue sent to FedGov to "manage" those lands, their being excluded from the tax base in each of those states, and state expense incurred in support of the fraudulent claims of federal ownership/control.

    I am fairly well informed of a situation in one Washington county, large in size yet one of the poorest and least developed. Why? FedGov own/control nearly 90% of that county. Twenty or so years ago, legislation was passed at federal level to cede one area, about 300 acres of USFS lands no longer needed by them, back to the county. USFS even today still maintains tight control over it, occupy a number of the buildings there, pay NO property taxes to that county, and have failed to tend to some infrastructure issues needed to develop it. Private interests are wanting to develop it, but USFS are dragging their feet on major portions of it, slowing down the county in furthering its improvement. The revenue from early stage development would likely quadruple the entire revenue income stream for that county. Almost NO land is available even for private dwellings, FedGov hold almost all of it. Time to get them off their thick ends and let the county move ahead. Its this way all across the West.

  • Comment Link Jake Martinez Wednesday, 23 April 2014 18:41 posted by Jake Martinez

    New EPA Land Grab, Complete Control Over All Private Land in America! (Part 3)
    “Food For Thought”
    Hello: When Are Americans Going To Wake Up?-God Bless America!
    Semper Fi!

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