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Is ‘Bundy Buddy’ Ted Cruz Really Trying to Sell Off the Nation’s Parks to the Highest Bidder?

Ted Cruz has taken Cliven Bundy’s anti-federal lands fight to the U.S. Senate. A new amendment to the Sportman’s Act of 2014 proposed by the Texas Tea Party favorite would require the federal government to auction off publicly owned land to the highest bidder.

The voice of the far-right movement on the issue, Cliven Bundy notoriously refuses to even recognize the federal government’s right to own the land he used to graze his livestock, famously declaring,”I’ll be damned if this is the property of the United States. They have no business here.”

Now, Cruz – with the support of 15 like-minded ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ legislators all opposed to federal land ownership – has authored his own amendment which would prohibit the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of the land in any given state and force them to auction off excess land.

This ‘excess’ land just so happens to be land that is currently home to parks, wildlife reserves and protected natural resources.

Under his amendment, this previously protected land would be sold or given away for logging, private agriculture, mining and drilling.

Despite being tacked on to the Sportsman’s Act of 2014, sportsmen have no love for legislation that would sell off their hunting and fishing grounds to private entities that would destroy the natural habitats of wild game.

Steve Kandell, Director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project, said that “public lands shape the American identity, support local economies and perpetuate our sporting heritage. They should not be sold.”

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) called Cruz’s amendment, “a radical cry to wrest our national forests and prairies away from public ownership.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Cruz of just submitting the amendment as a stall tactic, more likely to please his far-right supporters and be payback for proposed gun control legislation than a real effort to get anything actually done in Congress.

“They want amendments because they want to kill the bill like they have tried to kill everything the last six years,” Reid said Wednesday about Cruz’s and other amendments, clearly frustrated by the lack of progress of the Sportman’s bill.  “So I repeat, I’m open to consideration of amendments, but as we have repeatedly done, we need to start with a list of amendments from which to work.”

The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act which would expand fishing and hunting on federal grounds, reauthorize wetland and fishing conservation programs and would allow online sales of duck stamps, is now – thanks to a filibuster and stalls like Cruz’s- unlikely to pass this session, making hunters and fishermen the real losers of Cruz’s and others political maneuvering.

Photo Credit: Steve Dunleavy

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.