25 CONSERVATION AND REINVESTMENT ACT
C.A.R.A. IN A NUTSHELL:
FIVE REASONS WHY CARA IS A BAD IDEA
CARA IS A THREAT TO ALL PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS, especially farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, and inholders within federal lands.
CARA guarantees a gigantic, unprecedented gusher of money -- over $900 million dollars per year -- to federal and state agencies for land acquisition.
State agencies, which will receive half of the amount, at least $450 million, have unlimited power to exercise eminent domain and condemn land, forcing families off their property against their will.
With this much money available, the term "willing seller" becomes a scam, a joke. Here is how it operates. Environmental groups work in tandem with government agents to harass land owners. They use tactics such as threatening to declare habitat for an allegedly endangered species, and public protests demanding that the owner sell. This scares off customers, potential private sector purchasers and discourages banks from making loans.
Under personal, family or economic pressures, the land owner then becomes a "willing seller" to the only buyer available -- the same government agency or land conservancy that targeted and harassed him or her in the first place!
The land owners, such as farmers and ranchers, who have taken the best care of their property will be the first ones targeted by government agents and their environmentalist allies! CARA actually penalizes private land management which promotes wildlife habitat, by making it more valuable for the government to take!!
CARA WILL CAUSE ECONOMIC DAMAGE AND SOCIAL BREAKDOWN IN RURAL COMMUNITIES.
Since government entities do not pay property taxes, rural municipalities and counties lose tax revenue when land is bought by the government. This degrades basic services such as education, police and fire control. CARA includes increases in payments to replace lost tax revenue, called PILT, but it will replace only a small part of the lost revenue.
As land is bought by the government or a non-profit in a small community, people are forced out of their homes, or no longer visit due to lack of recreational access. 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 falls apart.
CARA IS ANTI-SPORTSMEN AND HUNTERS.
Animal rights groups are planning to use CARA funds to target for acquisition private property used for consumptive use of wildlife. They intend to target private land owned or leased by hunters, such as fish and game clubs and woodlots, and have a government agency purchase it, through condemnation if necessary. Then they will lobby to have all hunting, fishing and other uses eliminated from the property.
This has already been done in upstate New York. Champion International timber company and previous private owners had leased 139,000 acres to families for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and other recreation, in some cases for over one hundred years. New York state bought the property, and its first management decision was to eliminate hunting and snowmobiling.
The New York state bureaucrat responsible for the shutdown, Bernadette Castro, testified in favor of CARA and was one of its biggest cheerleaders during hearings on the bill!
More federal agencies are prohibiting use of firearms on public lands. As CARA gobbles up more and more land and turns it over to wilderness, park service or other restricted uses, gun owners will lose opportunities for target shooting as well as hunting.
CARA WILL RESTRICT RECREATIONAL ACCESS.
CARA targets for acquisition inholders, which are owners of private property within and surrounded by government lands. Inholders 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.
Environmental extremists who want to cut off human access and expand wilderness areas work with government agents to harass inholders and try to force them to sell. The idea is that if supplies and camping is cut off, there will be fewer visitors to a given area, and then it can be turned into wilderness with minimum protest.
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 public lands.
CARA, with its unprecedented funding and power of condemnation, is a direct threat to recreational access for all Americans.
CARA IS A $3 BILLION DOLLAR ANNUAL FISCAL FOLLY.
Between all its elements, CARA is a $3 billion annual pork spending bill. It takes elected officials out of the process of spending the funds, and hands it over to various trust funds so federal and state bureaucrats can do as they will with it. Because the source of funds is offshore oil revenues, the oil producing states of Alaska and Louisiana benefit disproportionately from the bill. CARA's sponsors are Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana).
If all the bill did was give Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil royalties to the handful of offshore oil producing states, then it would not be a threat to property rights. But in order to gain political support from environmentalists, Alaska and Louisiana congressional representatives sweetened the pot by adding a huge land acquisition trust fund, and other trust funds for everything from Civil War battlefields to Endangered Species Act enforcement and Indian tribes!
CARA is fiscally irresponsible for two primary reasons:
First, it creates no less than seven piles of pork -- seven trust funds taking tax money away from the legislative process and handing it directly to various state and federal special interest bureaucracies. Second, it does nothing to address the $5 billion maintenance backlog in our existing national parks and other public lands. CARA proposes to commandeer $900 million of land per year from private property owners. And yet the federal government has a multibillion backlog of maintenance needs for property it already owns. This includes everything from maintaining trails, park benches and public bathrooms to improved housing for park employees.
Congress and the executive branch agencies should be looking at maintaining what they already own, instead of grabbing more land.
Why doesn't CARA propose to spend funds on maintenance instead of new land purchases? Because the environmentalists want more land and more power in the hands of government, and the hell with recreational access for families and private property rights, that's why.
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