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Legislation Introduced To Let States Manage National Parks, Other Public Lands


In a move not entirely surprising, U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska has proposed legislation to create a mechanism for states to take over management of national parks and other federal lands.

It's not surprising in that a number of states -- Utah, Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota, New York, and Tennessee -- stepped up last week to underwrite the costs of reopening parks in their states during the government shutdown.

As written, the legislation would require a state to put up at least 50 percent of the costs of running the national park in question to have its petition considered by the Interior secretary. If a state provided 55 percent of the costs of operation, it would receive 55 percent of the revenues that park generated. States would not be given title to the land.

States that gain such authority could relinquish it by writing the Interior secretary and asking to be relieved of its authority. The secretary also could void the agreement if the state defaults on payments or is found to have breached its agreement.

Introduced this past Tuesday, the bill has no cosponsors.


It's not suprising that this kind of legislation is introduced by Don Young, one of the last holdouts against the Alaska National Intrest Lands Conservation Act. And, it will get some support from the most conservative members of his caucus.

The realiity is that most states could not afford to manage the number of NPS areas within their boundaries. My state, NM, one of the nation's poorest, has 14 NPS ;areas. It can barely support its state park system. In my opinion, this is a non-starter but it will get a lot of blah blah in the next several months. I am curious how Young plans to support the huge national parks areas in his state.


Not a surprise. There were at least 3 bills introduced in both the House and the Senate following the November 1995 shutdown that would have involved states in some capacity to keep the National Parks open during federal government shutdowns.

Young introduced a bill, The National Parks and Wildlife Refuge Freedom Act of 1995, that during a government shutdown the Interior Secretary would have to accept the donation of state employees to run a National Park or Wildlife Refuge from any state that offered such a donation. That bill had 13 cosponsors from both parties. The debate over the bill on the House floor in December 1995, had Young at one point referring to NPS actions during the shutdown as "Gestapo".

In the Senate, McCain introduced a similar bill just for National Parks in early December with 2 cosponsors. There was also a similar House bill introduced by Bob Stump of Arizona with 5 cosponors. These two bills never made it out of committee, only Young's bill made it to the floor for a vote.


I'm inclined to agree. (Was I really the intended audience for your comment?)

As others have suggested, one of Young's key goals seems to be found in this part of the bill:

"(h) Applicability of State Law on Qualifying Federal Lands Under Cooperative Agreement- State environmental, wildlife, and land management laws shall supercede Federal environmental, wildlife, and land management laws on the qualifying Federal lands administered by a State under a cooperative agreement in place under this section to the extent that such laws are more restrictive than the corresponding Federal laws."

Were it to pass, lawyers will likely be among the beneficiaries of this bill; just a few court cases could arise from disputes about whether state or federal laws were "more restrictive" for a given situation.

Nice read, Jim.

I believe many states would be desirous if not having National Parks in their states be under the command of this President particularly after it's been shown that he is willing to use the Parks for his political aims. Isn't that a crime of some sort in a normal world?


As i read that, the section calls for tougher laws. Seems to be contrary to all the prior chicken little claims here.

I think this is an important part:

“State may claim authority over and responsibility for management of Federal lands located in the State without claiming ownership of the land, and for other purposes.”

The first bolding would seem to be an end run around the Property and the Supremacy Clauses.

I wonder what effect this Act would have on SCOTUS decisions such as Kleppe v. New Mexico?

The second bolding is very troublesome. Does it include land sales and/or development? I would suspect the answer is yes, as the state would have 'controlling interest.' I also suspect that is the real driving force behind this bill and its requirement of greater than 50% investment. I'm surprised Utah hasn't signed on, though they want total control and ownership, and may not settle for "authority over."

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