U.S. House bill would sell off public lands in the Northwest

Oct 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would require the Obama Administration to sell off public lands, including parcels in the Northwest.

The issue got a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., just as some northwest lawmakers are pushing for wilderness protections on other lands.

Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz wants to sell off public lands across the West. That includes more than 180,000 acres in Idaho and Oregon.

Democrat Peter DeFazio of Oregon is open to the idea but doesn't think all that land should be lumped together.

"Each and every parcel of federal land, which may or may not be surplussed to federal needs, needs to be individually evaluated," DeFazio says.

New wilderness areas?

Meanwhile, DeFazio is urging that Oregon's "Devil's Staircase" be designated as a wilderness area. That would prohibit logging, development and even mountain biking on more than 30,000 acres of the coastal rainforest.

Washington Republican Doc Hastings is skeptical.

"The federal government already owns more lands then it can afford to properly manage," he says.

Hastings' fellow Republican Dave Reichert is also pushing to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington's Cascade Range.

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