A Republican in the House of Representatives has introduced a bill calling for the termination of Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management law enforcement functions. The legislation, set to become law on September 30, 2017 if passed by Congress, will close down the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement.
H. R. 4751 applies to land the federal government claims to own within the states. Specifically, the law covers land within the National Forest System, including National Grasslands and public lands defined by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, a law that eliminated homesteading in the United States by repealing the pre-existing Homestead Acts.
The legislation was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Agriculture earlier this month.
“I have long been a proponent of shifting federal powers and functions to state and local governments, where they rightfully belong,” said Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert after the bill was introduced by the Utah Congressional delegation. “The Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act does just that. It will provide block grants to states and allows local law enforcement to take the appropriate lead role in enforcing the law. I strongly urge Congress to pass this legislation.”
“Federal agencies do not enjoy the same level of trust and respect as local law enforcement that are deeply rooted in local communities. This legislation will help deescalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service will be able to focus on their core missions without the distraction of police functions. This is a win all around,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz and other members of the Utah Congressional delegation in a statement.
Constitution Limits Land Owned by Feds
The federal government is not authorized to own land. The Constitution restricts the feds to establishing “Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other Needful Buildings” and reserves for the States the right to own land.
“Our Founding Fathers specifically restricted what land the Federal government could own,” explains the Constitutional Concepts Foundation. “Even then, the Federal government had to purchase the land from the State, with the approval of the State Legislature. Further, the Constitution stipulates that all new States will become members of the Union on an equal footing with all other States. This is not true of the Western States where the vast majority of the land within the boundaries of the State was simply taken by the Federal government.”
H.R. 4751 arrives following the Bundy standoff in Nevada over grazing rights and the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns, Oregon. After the occupation and the Nevada standoff the feds handed down three dozen indictments and arrested protest participants. Cattle rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot to death by the FBI during the occupation in Oregon.