By RGJ Editorial Board | October 31, 2015
A movement in the West is getting louder to turn federal lands over to states.
Doing this would be the wrong way to address growth concerns, has the potential to harm Nevada taxpayers, and goes against the wishes of many hunters, hikers and other outdoor recreationists who fear losing access to currently public lands.
The Nevada Legislature this year approved a resolution to tell the federal government that Nevadans want it to relinquish control of tens of millions of acres, and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nevada) backs federal legislation to make it happen.
On the surface, the argument in favor makes sense: Bureaucrats in Washington do not and cannot understand facts on the ground as well as the people living here. Because of this, proponents say, Washington is too slow to respond when towns and industry need the land to grow. Nevadans therefore should be the ones deciding the proper uses for land in our own state, they say.
Calls for turning over control of federal lands are linked frequently to a distrust and dislike of the federal government. It is doubtful, though, that critics will show any less animosity toward state bureaucrats than they do toward federal ones if a switch were to take place.