The federal government owns more than half the land in the state, as it does across much of the West. It used to be routine for ranchers to get permits to graze cattle or cut timber or work mines — a way to make a living from the land.We all agree that natural beauty is important, and the environment represents a kind of national treasure. But the culture of the West is also a kind of national treasure. The people might be self-sufficient, as once they were when they could own the land they worked.
Then came increasing environmental regulations, and the federal land became more for owls and sage grouse than for local people trying to feed their families, said Soper, 39, who lives 100 miles up the road in Bend.
To me this is a story much like the Yazoo land scandal, except that instead of selling the land to a corporation the government is refusing to sell to anyone. That policy ends up making citizens less free than they would be if they could own their own means of production, including the land on which they graze. While some national parks and refuges are a great idea, the West is vast -- vast enough that the government could do everything we'd want them to do without owning half or more of the land in these states.
The effect of government ownership of most of the land in your state is to reduce a large part of the citizenry from free landholders to tenet farmers subject to the whim of their landlords. It is to reduce the scope of human liberty substantially. Property ownership is one of the rights the Revolution was fought to protect -- indeed, for the many Founders who were politically aligned with John Locke, it was first among those rights. These policies put the liberty that comes with ownership out of reach, and along the way are crushing out of existence a traditional American culture of great nobility.