Administration Seeks to Expand Federal Control Over Western Lands
Thursday, March 3, 2011 4:03 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

Federal land in the West could soon come under more control as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) consider whether to designate millions of acres of federal land as “wild lands.”

Last December, Secretary Salazar announced that the BLM would be tasked with inventorying its 235 million acres of land holdings in an effort to identify wilderness quality lands.
Originally conceived to preserve lands unmarred by human hands, wilderness status (and soon wild lands status) is now used as a tool to block desirable land from energy development, oil exploration, cattle grazing, hunting, farming, mountain biking, and every other form of use and recreation.
This drew the ire (and rightfully so) of several Western lawmakers and governors accusing the administration of circumventing Congress who traditionally has the sole jurisdiction do designate wilderness areas. In House Natural Resources hearing held this week, Chairman Doc Hastings re-iterated this sentiment in his opening statement saying:
“The term “wild lands” may be new, but the Administration’s motives are not. This order is a clear attempt to all the Administration to create de facto Wilderness areas without Congressional approval…
“Before examining the widespread impacts of this order, the Administration’s lack of legal authority to impose such a policy deserves emphasis. The Wilderness Act of 1964 very clearly gives Congress, and only Congress, the statutory authority to create new Wilderness areas.
“Its absurd for the Obama Administration to claim that giving wilderness a different label of “wild lands” will somehow pass legal muster. Clever semantics cannot circumvent the law.”
Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Utah Governor Gary Herbert were also on hand to testify, warning of the economic impact, including significant job losses that could occur should this order take effect.
This Secretarial Order is a serious threat to all property owners in the West.  Over the past several decades, there has been a proliferation of programs dedicated to the preservation of land that has extended the grasp of the federal government and its influence over private property rights. As a result, landowners have seen their property value diminish due to increased land use regulations and outdoor recreation enthusiasts have found new restrictions on both public and private land.


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Save the Date! Launch of 2011 International Property Rights Index
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 12:50 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

 Followed by a discussion by a panel of experts on what the Index means for property rights in the 112th Congress and around the globe

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

National Press Club
13th Floor -- Lisagor, White, and Murrow Rooms

Confirmed Speakers
Kyle Jackson, 2010 Hernando de Soto Fellow
Stan McCoy, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, USTR Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation
Terry Miller, Director, Center for International Trade and Economics, Heritage Foundation
Christina Walsh, Director of Activism and Coalitions, Institute for Justice

kzahourek @

Property Rights Alliance has partnered with sixty-seven (67) global institutions to present the 2011 International Property Rights Index (IPRI)

The 2011 International Property Rights Index (IPRI) is an international comparative study that measures the significance of both physical and intellectual property rights and their protection for economic well-being. Property Rights Alliance initiated the IPRI studies for the Hernando de Soto Fellowship Program to contribute to developing accurate and comprehensive measures regarding property rights (PR) on an international scale. The International Property Rights Index will provide the public, researchers and policymakers, from across the globe, with a tool for comparative analysis and future research on global property rights. In order to incorporate and grasp the important aspects related to property rights protection, the Index focuses on three areas: Legal and Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR), and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The current study analyzes data for 129 countries around the globe, representing ninety-seven percent of world GDP. Of great importance, the 2011 gauge incorporates data of PR protection from various sources, often directly obtained from expert surveys within the evaluated countries.


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Virginia Senate Moves Forward on Eminent Domain Reform
Friday, February 25, 2011 3:37 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

This week, the Virginia Senate came one step closer to enacting true reform that would end eminent domain abuse in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In a 35-5 vote, the Senate approved a constitutional amendment that would redefine and limit the public uses for which private property may be confiscated by the government. Eminent domain is still allowed under this legislation for traditional public uses, such as schools and transportation projects for the state of Virginia, but the state would be required to fully compensate the owner. Eminent domain for the purpose of private economic development would be prohibited under the amendment.

In a Richmond Times Dispatch op-ed, A. Barton Hinkle made the case for why reform is needed in Virginia by offering a few cases of abuse that involved:

•Roanoke seizing a building that belonged to the owners of a mom-and-pop flooring company so it could turn the property over to Carilion, a billion-dollar health-care corporation.

•Norfolk trying to seize the property of Central Radio so it could hand the land over to Old Dominion University.

•VDOT trying to cheat a small day-care owner out of just compensation — and spending more on lawyers to fight the case than it would have shelled out by paying her original asking price.

The 2005 Kelo v. City of New London decision by the Supreme Court provided local governments the unrestricted opportunity to take homes and small businesses for private development. Following this court decision, legislation in both Congress and state capitals around the country has been debated on what the proper role of government is with regard to the use of eminent domain.

This is just the beginning of the process to enact reform in Virginia. For an amendment to be added to the constitution, the amendment must pass the General Assembly twice with an election in between and then go to a vote of the people through the referendum process.

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