Wilderness “Protection” is Property Rights Infringement

It would appear that plans are moving ahead for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Preservation Act (NREPA). NREPA is just the next step in a string of government actions and programs that fly in the face of property rights. This act, currently waiting in the House Natural Resources Committee, would reclassify 24 million acres of land in the Western United States as wilderness. 

Designating federal land as wilderness effectively amounts to a land grab. Originally conceived to preserve lands unmarred by human hands, wilderness 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. By restricting access to land for exploration, this legislation is limiting the potential of the economy and directly interfering with America’s entrepreneurial drive. 

According to the Republican members of the Natural Resources Committee, almost 1,700 jobs would be jeopardized by passage of this bill. This fact should not come entirely as a surprise considering that none of the sponsors of NREPA represent districts that would be affected by it. The Federal government owns 650 million acres of land. Over one hundred million of those acres are now regulated as wilderness. 2009 has seen several assaults on property rights at the Federal level. On top of the Clean Water Restoration Act, the last thing that property owners need is more regulation of land use. The Natural Resources Committee surely can spend their time on more worthy causes.