Federal land managers push to buy more private inholdings
Written byJIM CARLETON, Wall Street Journal/Greenwire
Even as federal money dwindles, land managers are increasing their efforts to acquire privately owned acres within national parks.
It has become more critical as demand for the land increases from people who want to build on the plots. About 2.7 million acres of inholdings exists within national parks. That is equal to about 3 percent of the park system's total acreage nationwide.
Land managers want to prevent the kind of situation happening in Utah's Zion National Park, where homes have started to pop up on the 3,300 acres of private homestead land within the park boundaries (Greenwire, July 9).
"It's pretty big and unsightly," Zion guide Bill Dunn said. "People come up here to get away from it all, not feel like they are back in the city."
But the money within the federal budget for buying the private inholdings has been cut in the past decade. In 2002, the Land and Water Conservation Fund -- shared among state and federal agencies -- had $637.9 million for acquisitions. This year, it has only $322.8 million.
House Republicans want to cut the fund to $66 million for fiscal 2013, while the Obama administration has proposed $450 million. Critics say the Interior Department has had years to acquire the land.
"They have not used this money to solve that problem," Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said. "Instead, they have spent the money elsewhere."