Fight to Return Federal Land to the States Gets a Boost from Koch Brothers

Fight to Return Federal Land to the States Gets a Boost from Koch Brothers © AFP 2016/ Rob Kerr

03:44 13.02.2016(updated 10:35 13.02.2016) Get short URL

Following the resolution of an armed standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge, the movement to transfer federal lands to state control has gained some powerful backers: conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The 41-day standoff between law enforcement agents and armed militants at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ended on Thursday when David Fry, the last holdout of the occupation, surrendered to police.

While calls for states to reclaim lands from the federal government are unpopular with most Americans, support from the Koch network could help the movement gain some traction in the mainstream.

ClimateProgress reported that “the Koch network is providing direct support to the ringleader of the land grab movement, Utah state representative Ken Ivory, and has forged an alliance with groups and individuals who have militia ties and share extreme anti-government ideologies.”

As an advocate for states’ rights, Ivory has long argued that federal lands should be transferred to state control.

In 2012, Ivory, a Republican, sponsored the Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act, which called on the federal government to give all federal land within Utah – which amounts to 65% of the land in the state – to the state government.

He also founded the American Lands Council (ALC), a nonprofit formed to support the state takeover of public lands.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Ivory would step down as head of the ALC and join the South Carolina-based group Federalism in Action, specifically, its “Free the Lands” project. Federalism in Action is a member of the State Policy Network, a Koch brother–funded network of more than 50 right-wing think tanks and libertarian groups focusing on state policy.

As ClimateProgress pointed out, backing from the Koch network may help the land-seizure movement attract the support of politicians who want the Koch endorsement and contributions. Last week, GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz promised to be “vigorously committed to transferring as much federal land as humanly possible back to the states.”

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