"Come on down to Crazy W's Real Estate. We are having one heck of a sale. The schools need money so Big W said we should sell it all, to the bare walls. We have thousands, count' em, thousands of acres of the tax payer's public lands and we are ready to make deal."
This sounds a bit far fetched and it would be a funny spoof were it not sadly true. It seems that our government is entertaining the idea of selling off public lands in our national forests to raise $800 million dollars to extend a temporary program that funds schools and roads in rural counties. According to information provided by the US Department of agriculture North Carolina stands to lose 9,828 acres while Georgia and Tennessee can say goodbye to 4,522 and 2,996 acres of pristine National Forest respectively. South Carolina is on the list to sell 4,665 acres of public land.
No doubt these lands will be prime property for developers who will seek to build exclusive and possibly gated communities, which will probably be out of reach of the average sportsmen and women who currently own them. The upside is that rural school children will be able to have nice schools where they can study about what it was once like to visit a national forest.
Don't get me wrong, I am not much of a bleeding heart about this sort of thing. I would much rather see them drilling for oil in our national forests than selling them off to political cronies who would make them exclusive and inaccessible. I am in favor of schools too but I don't see the logic in giving up public land to fund them. There are too many other things that could be cut or taxed before resorting to this. I try to remember what my father said on the subject of land, "they won't be making any more of it."
A close look at the list of properties that might be sold can be a bit sobering even to a crusty old editor like me. Names like Bitterroot, Black Hills, Colombia River Gorge, Uwharrie, and Ozark ought to mean more than just another nail in the lid of a Washington pork barrel.
The forest service plans to open up the topic for comments from the public after it publishes an notice of this plan in the Federal Register around February 28th. Start contacting your Senator now to express your opinion on this topic. Watch the USDA website for further information and the opportunity for public comment.
Thanks to Charlotte.com (free subscription required) and Find the River for info on this subject