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For Immediate Release
Thusday, February 17,2000

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN SLAM "C.A.R.A." LANDS LEGACY BILL

In a highly unusual action, six Republican members of the House Resources Committee have co-signed a strongly worded "Dissenting View" that has been filed with the Committee's report on the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), HR 701. This open defiance against committee chairman and CARA sponsor Don Young (R-AK) is another clear sign that CARA faces an uphill fight within the GOP.

CARA, which is President Clinton's Lands Legacy in legislative form, has been cosponsored by 90% of Democrats in the House of Representatives, and was approved unanimously by Democratic members of the Resources Committee.

However, a majority of Republican members did not vote for CARA in committee, and a majority of GOP congressmen have not cosponsored the bill despite a multimillion dollar lobbying effort by interest groups profiting from CARA.

Included in CARA is nearly one billion dollars per year that can be used for adverse condemnation of private property, enabling state and federal agencies to force farmers, ranchers, fish and game clubs and others off their land. It will also encourage additional wilderness designations on federal lands, which will reduce recreational access for families, off-roaders, hunters, and others.

Despite its disastrous effects on land owners and recreational access, CARA is actually sponsored by Republican Congressmen and Senators from Alaska and Louisiana. The bill creates a $3 billion dollar annual trust fund, exempt from the appropriations process. CARA's distribution formula guarantees $313 million per year for Louisiana, one of the poorest states in the United States, and provides a subsidy of $272 per person per year for every resident of Alaska. The average state benefits less than $11 per person annually.

"CARA's Republican sponsors are selling out property owners, capitulating to President Clinton and cutting a deal with preservationists," said Chuck Cushman, Executive Director of the American Land Rights Association. EXERPTS FROM DISSENT ATTACHED - TWO PAGES TOTAL DISSENTING VIEWS ON H.R. 701

"Despite the best intentions of the authors, H.R. 701 continues to fail on four critical points: 1) basic protections for private property owners; 2) fiscal responsibility of our current national parks and public lands; 3) rights for recreational access; 4) preserving the future of America's farming communities.

"Under H.R. 701, private landowners who have taken the best care of their property are likely to be the first ones targeted for Land and Water Conservation Fund acquisition, since their land will have the highest values for wildlife. CARA penalizes sound private land management that promotes wildlife habitat, by increasing the land's value, which leads to government agencies targeting those parcels for acquisition and additional regulations.

"As the government or a non-profit buys land in a small community, people are forced out of their homes. There is less business to keep a retail store running, a smaller congregation to keep a church's doors open, and less reason to justify keeping a school or post office in the area. After a point, government land acquisition causes a community to lose critical mass, and it ceases to be a community.

"CARA places special emphasis on targeting inholders for acquisition. Inholders are owners of private property within and surrounded by government lands. They frequently provide the most accessible and sometimes the only supplies and campgrounds for visitors to national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. Many inholders have undeveloped property, use it for family recreation, and allow access through it to other parts of the park or forest.

"Even though there is greatly increased demand for recreation, in the last 25 years, the number of privately operated campgrounds has declined by more than 30%. This has deprived inholders of a source of income and tourists and visiting families access to their own federal lands. CARA, with its unprecedented funding and power of condemnation, is a direct threat to recreational access for all Americans.

"As authorizers, it is negligent to continue ignoring the $5 billion maintenance backlog in our existing national parks and other federal lands that has been identified by the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Interior. Unfortunately, this is exactly what CARA does. This backlog includes maintaining trails, park benches, roads, public bathrooms and improved housing and administrative offices for land management agency employees. We believe that the federal government should be properly maintaining and managing what it already owns, before approving a trust fund that will finance massive new land acquisitions."
Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-ID)
George Radanovich (R-CA)
Barbara Cubin (R-WY)
Bob Schaffer (R-CO)
John Peterson (R-PA)
Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

- ALRA -

For More Information Contact:

American Land Rights Association
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