Just in case there was any confusion that the push to take away Americans’ public lands is a really, really bad idea, Mother Nature eliminated all doubt.

In the most recent version of the Sagebrush Rebellion being pedaled by tea party insurgents, land grabbers claim state and private ownership of our public lands would benefit Idaho.

Of course, there’s a major problem with that premise. Wildfires. In other words, if the Gem State seized ownership of federal lands, Idaho would be on the hook for fighting fires, which would be really, really expensive.

Air-tanker-no-money-for-schools-memeThe land grabbers have a response: state and private lands are better managed than federal lands and, therefore, resistant to wildfires.

So how does that argument stack up against reality?

Not very well.

Clearwater-complex-fire-mem One of the biggest, most destructive, and tragically, fatal fires of the year is the Clearwater Complex fire that surrounds Kamiah. Sadly for the land grabbers and their argument that federal land management is to blame for fires, nearly three quarters of the blaze has burned on state and private land.

Acreage burned as of Monday 8/17:

  • BLM, Forest Service — 9 percent
  • State and private — 72 percent
  • Tribal — 19 percent

These, of course, are facts. And the land grabbers don’t care about facts.


As demonstrated by the above Facebook post, the inability to understand facts doesn’t stop land grabbers from having strong opinions. So let’s reiterate: the “Kamiah” fire (it’s actually called the Clearwater Complex Fire) is burning mainly on private and state land, which, for those who are slow on the uptake, isn’t managed by the Forest Service or BLM.

With that in mind, why the hashtag “#Federalgovernmentfail”? We have no idea.

It’s hard to understand the vast disconnect between the land grabbers and reality. Even the nation’s most conservative governor understands the cost of fire suppression.

Butch-Otter-public-land-memeBut nothing is going to get in the way of the land grabbers and their fealty to the anti-government gods. They continue to make the argument that federal land management causes fires.

[By the way, when wildfires occur on state and private land, federal agencies still respond]

Meanwhile the people who live in the real world know that fires don’t care who owns the land. As long as the weather is hot and dry, all lands — private, state, public — have the potential of burning.

Drought-and-fires-mapsIt’s hard to fathom a more irresponsible public policy. The cost of fighting wildfires is going up and the land grabbers’ answer is: “Put the bill on our tab!”

Such a policy would be disastrous. It would also have have real consequences. The state would be crushed under a massive financial liability.

What would the land grabbers get out of it? Their buddies in the extractive industries will be delighted. When the firefighting bills come due to a Gem State that is land rich and money poor, those public lands we love and cherish will be sold into private fiefdoms.

That’s not a bug of the land grabbers’ misguided policies, it’s a feature. The Sagebrush Rebellion isn’t about the middle-class, it’s about wealthy people and corporations gaining a greater share of the Western landscape.

Any claims to the contrary have gone up in smoke.