The Bush administration is making another attempt to privatize public lands– a piece at a time.

A provision in the Fiscal Year 2007 budget from the Bush White House proposes to sell off chunks of the national forests to fund rural schools for five years.

While public comment on the plan was originally set to close on March 31, the Forest Service recently extended the deadline to May 1.

The Bush budget offers up more than a quarter-million acres of public lands for sale– 304,370 acres in total. Eighty-five thousand acres of this would come from California public lands.
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 promises funds to rural schools based on the amounts that historically came to the schools from logging revenue. This law, which was passed to ensure funding to rural education that had been lost through reduced logging, is itself up for renewal in September 2006.

The proposed sale of national forest land is just the latest in Republican attempts to privatize public lands. Last year, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) had proposed selling off national parks. He and Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) also inserted language in a budget reconciliation bill that would have made it easier for mining companies to buy and develop mineral claims in the national forests.

In our wealthy society, there is no compelling need to fund our schools by selling off national forest land. The national forests are a heritage kept in trust for all Americans. They are not meant to be parceled out to private owners just to pay for government expenses. In this case the sales would only fund schools for five years.


The Forest Service is soliciting comment on the land sales. Forests Forever urges you to object to the entire concept of selling off our nation’s forest heritage, rather than comment piece by piece on the list of Forest Service lands up for sale.

Write to the Forest Service and tell it you do not want to see our public lands auctioned off for any reason. Comments must be received by May 1, 2006.

Send a copy of your comments to your representative in Congress. Contact information for your representative can be found at http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Send your comments to:

USDA Forest Service
SRS Comments, Lands 4S
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop 1124
Washington, DC, 20250-0003

Fax: 202.205.1604
Email: SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us


To USDA Forest Service:

I am writing to let you know that I oppose the sale of Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management lands to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination (SRS) Program.

Selling off 304,379 acres of publicly owned land is unnecessary and would cause irreversible harm to our national forest system, both in the actual acres lost to the public, and in the precedent such a sale would establish.

Our schools should not be held hostage either to logging or land sales. In this wealthy nation, surely rural schools can be funded without selling off our national forest heritage.

These sales undercut the purpose for which the national forests were established: to preserve these forests as a public trust for the American people.

I am opposed, not just to individual sales, but to the idea of selling off public lands to pay for government programs. This proposal is unacceptable, and I urge the Forest Service to reject it.


Your Name
Your Address


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Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places