NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

If Forests Burn Down, Acquire New Ones

September 12, 2000

Despite still-smoldering wildfires on federal lands, the Senate soon may authorize $45 billion through the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) to buy more land. Until federal authorities prove they can manage the acreage they already control, say critics, Congress should impose a complete moratorium on new land acquisitions.

  • The Clinton-Gore administration ignored the General Accounting Office's August 1999 prediction that "it is only a matter of time before catastrophic wildfires become widespread."
  • And the administration has diverted taxpayer dollars from fire-safety to acquire new national monuments, according to H. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis; this year's Interior Department fire-safety budget fell from $322 million to $305 million, and the 2001 request plunged 26 percent, from $400 million to $297 million.
  • The administration also has closed forest roads and slowed the construction of new ones, thus keeping firefighters from the flames.

CARA would finance seven different environmental trust funds that would expend taxpayers' dollars without annual congressional approval. Under CARA, federal and state authorities could use both "adverse condemnation" power and a billion dollars annually to seize private property.

Instead of giving federal authorities the means to acquire yet more land, say CARA opponents, the Senate should ban further federal land acquisition.

Source: Deroy Murdock (Atlas Economic Research Foundation), "Fanning the Flames," National Review Online, September 3, 2000.


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