Mitt doesn’t know what public lands are for? Gawd, what lie next?

Interesting column (click) by Timothy Egan on Mitt  Romney and public lands. He says he doesn’t know what good they are and that they should be turned over to the private sector.

Mitt doesn’t know what public lands are for?

That’s an interesting question considering that the Olympic games he allegedly saved in 2002 were held, for the most part, on Public Land.

Snowbasin ski resort above Ogden, which hosted all the major downhill ski events, only owns a couple thousand acres of the land its main lodge and parking lots sit on. All the ski runs, all the mountain lodges, are on public land administered by the US Forest Service, for which Snowbasin pays the US about $140,000 a year for the use of.

This doesn’t count the billions in highways the Federal Government paid to upgrade Utah Roads for the games, such as the massive rebuild of I-15.

One key example: The federal government paid $14 million for a new access road to Snowbasin expressly to make the resort more usable during the Games. That road also crosses that public land, so the right of way I assume was free.

This is the stance of the candidate who now lambastes people who accept public aid and claims to support people who “built” what they have without government help.

Earl Holding, the owner of Snowbasin, couldn’t have built his bunny hill without the Federal Government letting him and helping him along the way, and Mitt’s Olympics would have been nowhere without the close cooperation and aid of the Forest Service. The whole shebang is on land that Ogden City originally bought in the 1930s because, under private ownership, it had been laid waste, stripped of timber, and allowed to become a pestilent seep for dead cattle to degrade into Ogden’s water system.

So much for private enterprise protecting the public out of concern for some greater good.

The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.

I live in Ogden. I covered the 2002 games for the Ogden Standard-Examiner, I was on the mountain the day Mitt cussed out a hapless volunteer trying to direct traffic, and I know.

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14 Responses to Mitt doesn’t know what public lands are for? Gawd, what lie next?

  1. Alan says:

    That’s exactly right, Charles. If you hike or ski into the woods around Snowbasin you can find a few remnants of the old growth forest that weren’t stripped for profit. The only trees left uncut were those too oddly grown to make good lumber. If public lands are treated the way Mitt wants they will certainly be destroyed, except for the unprofitable parts.

    • KT says:

      To imagine that Romney wants ALL public lands “except the unprofitable parts” turned over to private use seems pretty paranoid to me.

      And government is not always the best steward of land. Residents of Southern Utah were told by one politician that they should be proud to “sacrifice” for their country by having deformed children and children with cancer due to nuclear testing (without adequate prior warning to the populace of the dangers of radiation). The army tried to evade responsibility for killing sheep in Skull Valley with a nerve agent.

      The Soviet Bloc countries, where land was held in common (at least in theory) were characterized by horrendous environmental degradation. Similar problems persist today in China and North Korea.

  2. Caril Jennings says:

    It is hard to believe that a person looking after the common good would say something like that out loud. Oh, wait. . .

  3. Ben pales says:

    Mitts campaign decided that they are going to swing as far right as possible, to keep the GOP base involved until election day. They feel that the Republican base will out vote the Dem base. That’s why Mitt looses.

  4. Howard Ratcliffe says:

    Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett sure scored on trading near worthless Utah School Trust Land for what will one day be the most valuable land on earth at the base of Sun Valley West er I mean Snowbasin.
    Slight correction; Utah taxpayers paid for and are currently on the hook for Snowbasin Road.
    And Charlie, the US has already Privatized National Parks by using hired guns to police the borderlands of Canada in Glacier National Park and the Boundary Waters. They are not even subject to the laws of the US.
    Yellowstone even forces Taxpayers to hire private guides in the winter in addition to paying an entrance fee.
    National Parks have universally gone to American Land and Leisure for camping permits, a private company in Provo that rakes in 50% of the profits.
    Grand Escalante Staircase, a 1.7 million acre National Monument even closes at night to camping.
    The BLM puts up signs all over Public Lands saying “Wilderness Study Area” at least that’s what I thought the signs said before I ran them over with my ATV.
    Mitt is a little late to Privatize much more Try getting a tour of the Capitol

  5. Dovie says:

    My National Wildlife Federation magazine has a comparison of Obama v Mitt on conservation. They have a three page question and answer session they did with Obama. Romney did not answer their calls, so they took comments off his website – things like “we need to drill more”. Absolutely no contest deciding who to vote for if you care about this issue.

  6. Mike Johnson says:

    Why do so many conservatives have a problem understanding basic English? What does “public” in public lands mean? The public owns this land. Who are the public? It’s all Americans. This public land belongs to all Americans.

    Once,there was Bernard Augustine DeVoto was was born in Ogden, Utah in 1897. De Voto wrote in defense of public lands from timber, mining and the cattle industry. There has always been a temptation for the wealthy who insist that wealth is built on the foundation of property rights to try to take the the American public property rights draining the public’s wealth, redistributing the public’s wealth in to their bank accounts.

    • KT says:

      No misunderstanding that I can see, Mike. Charles’ summary is misleading. Increasingly, “public lands” are restricted from public use and reserved for groups favored by government. As in this administration’ s decision to ban pack horses in the Sierras (except for politically-connected groups which receive the government’s blessing).

      And the Feds don’t seem to care much about the PUBLIC OR PRIVATE wealth of the people living in Tombstone, Arizona. Their precious rules are more important than this part of the “public”, which likely appreciates nearby wilderness areas more than the average citizen.

      • KT says:

        And thinking of public lands as “the public’s wealth” will not automatically lead to wise stewardship of that land. Walter Russell Mead (who voted for Obama in 2008 but will not vote for him in 2012) reminds us of some of the potential dangers, illustrated by way of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. The mainstream American press will be more likely to highlight any abuses of public lands where conservatives are in office.

  7. KT says:


    The quote I see in the article you linked is, ” ‘I don’t know what the purpose is’ of all this federal land in the West.” Did you misquote i Romney to make him sound stupid, or did I miss another quote? According to the article linked below, the federal government owns 84.5% of Nevada. Do you REALLY know the purpose for which the federal government owns ALL of this land?

  8. KT says:

    As far as I am concerned, Charles, your misquotes and generalizations (both in your heading and under it) are lies. But maybe they’re teaching looser standards in J-school now.

  9. ray says:

    In contrast to Utah, the state of Virginia gave a huge chunk of public land to the federal government so it could become Shenandoah National Park. If it had not done this, the whole danged thing would be covered with Kentucky Frieds, McDonalds and gas stations.

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