Congressional candidates trade barbs on public lands

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., is taking issue with his Democratic rival’s newest television ad.

In it, former state Sen. Gail Schwartz says Tipton wants to sell off public lands and make them available to private individuals and corporations.

That’s not even close to being true, Tipton said.

“I’ve been a longtime advocate of keeping our federal public lands and ensuring that the American people have continued access to them,” Tipton said.

“Never once have I advocated to sell them off.”

In the ad, called “Public Lands,” Schwartz said Tipton “wants to cut off access to public lands for generations to come, killing thousands of jobs,” adding that the land should remain open for ranching, hunting and fishing.

As evidence to back up the ad, Schwartz’s campaign said Tipton co-sponsored a bill in Congress requiring the federal government to dispose of “hundreds of thousands of acres” of land, saying he’s doing so to benefit out-of-state campaign donors.

But the measure her campaign refers to merely tweaks an existing law that governs how federal agencies can already sell public lands.

That law, first enacted more than a century ago, deals with lands the federal government has already expressed an interest in selling.

The proposed legislation would add to those lands property that the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have already deemed unsuitable as wilderness areas.

Tipton said while he hasn’t advocated for selling off public lands, he is in favor of opening them up for more commercial uses and opposes new government regulations that make that harder to do.

“I support multiple-use access on our federal public lands that includes recreation, grazing and energy development where appropriate,” Tipton said.

“Many public lands are open to these activities, but in many cases unelected federal bureaucrats have imposed endless red tape hurdles to effectively prohibit them from taking place. We have especially seen this with regard to energy development.”

Schwartz said Tipton misses the point.

The underlying issue behind the movement to sell federal land is to use them solely for energy development at the expense of other uses, such as tourism and outdoor recreation, which also creates jobs, she said.

“There’s a dangerous movement nationally and in Congress to sell and transfer our public lands,” Schwartz said.

“Scott Tipton’s record clearly shows a patterns of alignment with the proponents of this movement.”


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