Posted on | June 18, 2009 | No Comments
IF YOU have ever driven the stunning reaches of the Mojave, Sonoran and Great Basin deserts and wondered who owns them, the answer is: You do. It is almost all public land.
But for how long and under what terms is by no means certain. Janine Blaeloch’s new book Carving Up the Commons: Congress & Our Public Lands explains the history of that land, the challenges we face in preserving it and the dark art of Congressional land deals that are steadily wheeling millions of acres and the region’s best resources into private hands.
Carving up the Commons is of especial interest to Westerners. While the fate of public land is decided in Washington DC, most of the land itself is in the West. The pressure to exploit it for housing, mining, timber and water is constant. No average Westerner could begin to follow the omnibus bills going through Congress in which a single paragraph can lay the groundwork for, say, draining the Great Basin Aquifer to benefit Las Vegas developers. Blaeloch wades through those bills and backroom deals for us.
Anyone who cares about the West should read Carving up the Commons, but not before donating to the publisher, the Western Lands Project, which is a registered 501 (c) 3.