Cruz: U.S. Lands Should Be Given to States or, ‘Better, the People’

Cruz: U.S. Lands Should Be Given to States or, ‘Better, the People’

The Republican presidential candidate takes high-profile stand against western federal land ownership.

Ted Cruz is consistent. He told Nevadans the federal government owns too much of their state and on Saturday he told Idahoans the same thing. Stumping in Coeur d’Alene, Cruz called for transferring “back” the land owned by all Americans, first saying that it should go to states, then implying it would be better in private hands.

“Too much land in this country, particularly in the West, is owned by the federal government,” he said. “It’s not right, it doesn’t make sense. And we need to transfer that land back to the states, or even better, back to the people. The people of Idaho know much better what to do with the land here than does the federal government.”

Prior to the Nevada Republican presidential caucus in late February, Cruz ran televisions attacking fellow candidate Donald Trump for his unwillingness to sell off Americans’ legacy. In an interview with Field & Stream, Trump said, “I don’t like the idea, because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble?” His campaign has said that he would keep federal holdings but streamline red tape.

For Cruz, that’s not even close to enough. In Idaho, he noted that the U.S. owns two percent of the land in his home state of Texas. “I gotta tell ya, in Texas we think that’s two percent too much.”

Cruz isn’t the only one clamoring to “take back” federal lands. The Republican National Committee issued a call “upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing western states.”

The problem with Cruz’s position is that federal lands never belonged to Idaho or any other state, nor did it belong to “the people,” unless by people he means the Native Americans from whom it was taken. As a condition of entering the union of the United States, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Nevada gave up any claims to unappropriated public lands. It was never theirs.

For more on the issue, read “The Folly of Taking Back Federal Lands”.

Photo of Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area by Roy Luck

Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal.
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Showing 11 comments
  • fjallman

    This guy scares me more than Drumpf.

  • Mason

    First of all, thanks AJ. What Cruz is saying sounds excellent, but what will happen to the land once it’s in state or private hands? Public access and conservation? Let’s hope so. If Cruz can state his intentions it’d make an excellent follow-up article.
    Thanks again AJ

    • Steve Casimiro

      You’re welcome!

  • Nick

    The great thing about “public” land is it already belongs to the public.

  • SethRyan

    I am not sure he understands that public is already owned by the people. Whether I agree with every decision made or not the Federal government is elected and funded by “the people”; therefore under the current structure this land is owned by we “the people.”

    Making this land private would be exactly the opposite of leaving this land in the hands of the public.

    While I am big on states rights and self governance; managing and protecting public land is one of the functions that I think should be shared between the Federal and State levels as it is today.

  • Ek

    Dear Americans, would you like your beautiful land strip mined, fracked, and sold off to the wealthy? What a completely asinine notion.

  • Mike P.

    It’s not like may of these states have done very well by the lands of their own that they already manage …

  • Parker

    Frankly, this idea is silly and those that agree with him are naive. He doesn’t believe these lands should go back to the people for the sake of benefitting them so the lands can be enjoyed. No, he wants these to go to the states so that they can make money on selling them to oil drillers like in Alaska where a large section of federally protected land cannot be used to drill for oil. He doesn’t care about outdoorsman and his/her enjoyment of those lands; he cares about making money off those lands.

    • Zach

      Parker, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Notice how he said this in Nevada and Idaho? Give that land up to the states to sell and lease as they please, then go ahead and kiss your recreational enjoyment of them goodbye forever.

  • Sebastian Puddy

    Federal land that is located in Idaho, for example, should be returned back to the people of Idaho. Why would the people of Idaho want elitist East Coast polititions dictating what they can or cannot do with land situated in their state. That land rightfully belongs to the people of Idaho and land in Montana belongs to the people of Montana. There are local representatives in each state that are accountable to the wishes of the residents. If I lived in Idaho I would not appreciate people in let’s say Conneticut telling me what I should do with my land. I’ll never be able to understand the love and trust so many people have of Federal Government Polititions.

    • Mike

      Where do you live? All the land management agencies have local offices that are responsible for most of the management and planning. Bureaucrats in Washington are generally not involved in the specifics.

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