By BRAD JONES
GPAA Managing Editor
Chances are you’ve heard the lyrics, “There’s clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,” from the Stealers Wheel song, “Stuck in the Middle With You.” Well, when it comes to the war over public lands in the West, you and I are the ones stuck in the middle. You would think that after more than two centuries of creating laws, that by now we would have enough of them. But no! Instead, meddling politicians feel compelled to keep smothering us with more and more restrictive laws to justify their existence—unlike the Founding Fathers whose laws granted us freedom and liberty. In late October, the Congressional Research Service published a report that states: “159 Members of the House (36 percent of the House) and 54 Senators (54 percent of the Senate) hold law degrees.” Yet, we continue to elect lawyers to Washington. Amid the litany of legislation, these lawmakers can’t even see to it that the biggies, such as the Constitution, are upheld.
Clowns to the left: From the Democrats in the U.S. Senate comes S. 414, a proposed legislative bill authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. This bill calls for more than a million acres of public lands to be designated as three national monuments, which means they will be off limits to gold and mineral prospecting.
Jokers to the right: From the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, comes HR 3668, a proposed legislative bill authored by Rep. Paul Cook, R-Apple Valley. This bill supports two of Feinstein’s three proposed national monuments—Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains—and allows for “permitted mining projects” on 10 percent of the land within a 965,000-acre “Mojave Trails Special Management Area” in place of Feinstein’s proposed Mojave Trails National Monument. While HR 3668 is considered by some to be the lesser of two evils, it’s unnecessary and devastating to the small-scale and mining community. Cook’s bill would gobble up more than 90 percent of the land that is now open to prospecting, mining. So, I ask you: With friends like Cook, who needs enemies?
Stuck in the middle with you: Gold prospectors as well as off-roaders and other outdoor user groups are stuck between a rock and a hard place, betrayed by both sides. When politicians and environmentalists claim we should “protect” public land, it begs the question: “Protect it from what?”
Why does the government really want to lock up all this land and natural resources under the guise of national monuments? When we answer that question, we will begin to see the big picture.
“... Well, I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right.”
“We the People” own these public lands—not the federal government or the environmental lobbyists. The contrast between public lands held in trust for the people of the United States and land owned by the federal government is very stark. After all, they are called public lands for a reason, and they should not be transferred to state control, sold to the highest bidder nor confiscated from the people.
“... Slap you on the back and say please, please ...”
Write your congressmen and oppose S. 414 before Feinstein carries out her threat to bypass Congress and summon President Barack Obama to wave his magic wand and declare more land grabs by executive order under the Antiquities Act. And, don’t let one too many “Cooks” spoil the broth. Also oppose HR 3668.
“Here I am, stuck in the middle with you ...
Trying to make some sense of it all
But, I can see that it makes no sense at all!”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!
Brad Jones is the Managing Editor/Communications Director for the Gold Prospectors Association of America and the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Article as featured in the December ’15/January ’16 edition of the Pick & Shovel Gazette. To subscribe, go to www.goldprospectors.org/join)