In January, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced a bill in the House that would direct the Bureau of Land Management to sell off 3.3 million acres of federally owned lands — an area the size of Connecticut.
But this week, Chaffetz decided to yank the bill after a fierce backlash from hunters, sportsmen and women, and conservationists on both the left and the right. Privatizing public land, it turns out, is a lot harder than it sounds.
Chaffetz announced on Instagram that he was pulling the bill, HR 621, saying, “I’m a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands.” He insisted that the lands he wanted the government to sell off are “serving no public purpose,” but that “groups I support and care about fear [the bill] sends the wrong message.”
The backstory here is that the federal government has long owned vast swaths of land across the West that agencies …