Chair Of House Subcommittee On National Parks Calls Parks, Other Federal Lands Unconstitutional

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees national parks and other federal lands, says it is unconstitutional for the federal government to own those tracts.

And while the Utah Republican would like to see most federal lands in the West turned over to the states, he said the federal government can keep national parks "because they’re not moneymakers anyway."

Rep. Bishop made the comments recently in Las Vegas, where he was appearing at a Western Republican Leadership Conference meeting, part of which focused on federal control of public lands in the West.

According to a report from Think Progress, a nonpartisan arm of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the congressman told those attending the conference that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it provide for such federal land ownership.

During a slide presentation to the conference the Republican said, "Federal government owns one out of every three acres in this country. If it’s west of Denver, it’s one out of every two acres. If this kind of federal control is good, then the Soviet Union should have been the Garden of Eden. But what this presents to us – and I defy you to find anywhere in the Constitution where this is allowable - but what it defines to us is – the second slide if you would – everything in red are the states that had the hardest time funding their educations system."

In its report on the meeting Think Progress pointed out that Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution provides that “Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”

Rep. Bishop also told Think Progress that he fully supports mining near Grand Canyon National Park, and says it would have "no impact on the Grand Canyon water or tourism that happens to be there."

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials last week announced their preference to extend a moratorium on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon for 20 years. After a 30-day waiting period, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will be able to sign off on the plan.

There has been legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives to block the administration from enforcing the moratorium. In July the House Appropriations Committee amended Interior's budget bill to tie the administration's hands on the matter.


People such as Rep. Bishop are an uninformed group. They choose to ignore the data that shows national parks have improved the ecomony in surrounding areas. They have no respect for our national parks, wildlife and wilderness areas. I'm sure they have never heard of John Muir! They would allow drilling, mining and pollution on every inch of land. Rep. Bishop should never be in a postion of authority to make decisions regarding our protected lands. Thank goodness there were people in America's past who protected our national treasures!

Had to chuckle when I read the title of post. Certainly a good title to stir up the conversation, lol.
Seriously, the party that Rep. Bishop does not belong to while supporting no end of feel good, poll selected comfort words, there is a reality out there. Almost to the point of using Air Force One (at tax payer expense) to import 1st time voters to prop up an administration's chances in the next election, jobs for these new voters are disappearing or nonexistent. The buzz words to demean the private sector and the evil conservatives just don't carry the day anymore. In the Parks across the country one of the most frequently seen signs (and cause of emergency room visits) is how bad it is to feed the animals. This is an analogy, folks. I agree with it, totally! If every one of those animals could vote and steer revenue to the parks, what would be the result? That's how bad the situation has gotten. There are tough realities to be faced one way or the other and for the individual critters/people to be independent, productive in their own natural world is the way it would seem to be the most desirable. The constant incendiary rhetoric by the extremes does not serve anyone or the resource, really. Their needs to be reason inserted which is absent in the career dividers.

God help us!


The National Parks should be the last place for drilling. Go there when there is no place left!

I can't resist a little humorous poke at Rep. Bishop, and all of those whose solution for anything they don't like is to simply cry "it's unconstitutional."
It doesn't appear the the constitution calls specifically for congressional subcommittees - or the convoluted House and Senate rules that are often used to "work the system" to the advantage of whichever party is currently in power.
Following Mr. Bishop's logic, all of those "unconstitutional" aspects of congressional operations ought to be eliminated :-)

No, Jim, Mr. Bishop should be eliminated by the voters. But I'm afraid that this is Utah where anyone with a big (R) beside their name on the ballot is a sure winner. I'm ashamed to live in this guy's district. Our other members of Congress are equally dense and all use the "unconstitutional" gibberish very liberally.

Thank goodness there are other states with sensible Congress critters to offset the insanity of Utah.

I just called Rep. Bishop's office in Utah. The lady there flat denied that Bishop had made any statements of this sort and asked, "Where did you hear that?" I replied that I was reading it in National Park Traveler. She then asked, "Well, what kind of publication is that?"

She then suggested I talk with Wayne Bradshaw, a legislative aide in Bishop's Washington office. But when I tried to reach him, he was not available. We need to flood Bishop's office with calls, emails, and letters. (Although most member of the House require that anyone contacting them live within their district. And as a bit of added irony, one of our Republicans -- Jason Chaffetz -- does not actually live in the district he represents. {That's okay in Utah.} But because I do not live in his district, I cannot contact him. This is just one of many examples of the kind of insanity Utah residents must endure from our dominant party.)

I don't swear -- I really don't -- but there are times it sure is tempting.

So even though it may be difficult to get a Congress critter's ear if you don't live in Utah, you can still try calling their Utah offices where apparently your call (unlike email) will not be blocked if you don't reside in "their" district. Bishop's Utah number is 801-625-0107.
Chaffetz' is (801) 282-5502. Senator Mike Lee's is 801-524-5933 and Senator Orrin Hatch is (801) 524-4380

Let's all of us call and keep calling. Ask to speak to Wayne Bradshaw and fill his ears with our displeasure.

Perhaps we should play the audio for her....

Dad always said "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and confirm it". Rep Bishop proves the truth of those words!
Mom always said "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". I tried, but just couldn't do it!
PS. I know Dad borrowed that phrase.

If the parks aren't money makers then maybe the National Park Service should close all the parks in Utah for a few summers to help for Federal Deficit and then let the people of Springdale, Moab, and the other small town in Utah explain it to him at the ballot box.

Agreed as well. When I read the title, I had to read though. There HAD to be more to the story!

What next from the party of no? Rep. Don Young chairing the House Committee on Ethics?
The selective reading of the Constitution by conservatives is second only to the selective reading of the bible by evangelicals as perhaps the most asinine behavior from those of that ideological bent.

Guantanamo Bay is a National Park, right?
And those Republicans sure wouldn't want to go emulating Teddy Roosevelt!

I'm pretty sure that the Constitution doesn't have provisions in it either for the formation of say...The Department of Labor or the National Endowment of the Arts. I guess there are still some "Sage Brush Rebellion" archtypes still hanging around. Unfortunately for Utah, Mr. Bishop happens to be one. As a 30 year Federal Park Ranger and someone that has devoted his life to protecting and enhancing federal lands, I find this sort of dialogue repugnant. Screw Mr. Bishop!

Maybe you can explain how Utah has managed to be at the other end of the spectrum (economically and in other ways also) from such states as Michigan, New York and California (with the 7th biggest economy(I believe) if it were a country. I'd think there is something they have been doing that might be looked into if one is willing to look past there own failed policies. Change is constant and successful adaption requires enduring some painful decisions (Life) and admitting and putting to rest bad decisions. Just felt it needed to be said.

Anon at 9:08 -- there's a huge difference between Utah and Michigan. Utah was not an industrial state dependent upon pretty much a single industry. There is no way you can compare the two in any way.

Obviously, Lee, they have little in common, especially their governing political parties. One might ask Orin Hatch what he would do with Michigan. Certainly wouldn't get a PC response but the answer would get to the core of the problem. A decent and respected leader who is probably heartbroken to view this country as it is now but could still muster the drive to remain hopeful.

How do these bozos ever get elected?

Who's Bozos, yours or mine, lol?

I just sent the following email to Rob Bishop:

Rep. Bishop is using a twisted claim that wilderness areas along the Mexican border make it difficult to detect and capture illegal immigrants and smugglers. Yet Border Patrol officers and National Park rangers who patrol and protect the border say that wilderness areas actually make their job easier because they know that any movement detected there is probably illegal.

Two more men who were captured in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument last spring were just convicted. A note in the National Park Service's Digest today says: "On March 28th, rangers tracked a group of suspected drug smugglers into the Alamo Canyon area of the park, an area open to and frequented by visitors. The smugglers dispersed when approached by rangers, but two were caught and six backpacks with 291 pounds of processed marijuana were seized. The two men – Omar Sandoval-Ventura and Jose Martin Burgos-Diaz – were convicted of smuggling. Burgos-Diaz was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison earlier this year; on October 24th, Sandoval-Ventura was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison."

These bring to at least four the number of smugglers captured, tried and sentenced this year alone.

When will Mr. Bishop finally stop trying to use lies to convince Americans that wilderness is bad and poses a security threat when he surely knows that his claim is false?

Lee, I agree, Rep. Bishop hasn't been a 100% supporter of NPS but then Billy Malone isn't either. There is a dark side to most things and some of the darker elements of both NPS and really/especially, the DC culture. A tried and effective way of hiding the darkness is to use any number of popular poll tested disguises/words to grease things. So, anyone that might see through the smoke and is concerned is smeared any number of ways. The border is not safe for anyone and it appears that the Feds as much as the different agencies may want to secure it, this administration is all about their politics in a way unseen before. I truly love these wild places and have the opportunity to get into them more than most particularly more than President Obama who's three hour bus ride through one of the great wonders of the world was a mere political photo op. Hardly comparable to other Presidents of character that did indeed sense the intimate greatness that these places impart. So, for myself I prefer the tough realities of honest debate to the deception, lies and fraud no matter what party.

Anonymous, perhaps you'd like to come out from behind your veil of secrecy? Otherwise we might assume that you're pushing an agenda against the current administration;-)

To say that, "This administration is all about their politics in a way unseen before" seems to greatly trivialize the elements of the previous administration that precipitated two wars abroad and the financial/economic chaos here at home.

And don't overlook that this president is not a trendsetter in creating the "political photo op." Have you forgotten the aircraft carrier shot? Or even President Clinton's photo op on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to designate a national monument in Utah?

Don't misunderstand my position, either, as the current administration has been disappointing in a good number of areas. At the same time, don't forget there are 535 other folks up on Capitol Hill who have more than a small pull on the country's rudder.

The point, of course, is that all politics are slimy. Some just more than others. Seemingly long gone are the statesman and stateswoman who seemed/tried to work in the nation's best interests.

As for the realities of the border debate, I'll let the GAO handle those:

Kurt, thank you for having my back on this.

Anon -- have you ever heard of Paul Hoffman? Do you know who he was and what he tried to do under orders from President Cheney and his little buddy?

I agree with Kurt that President Obama has been a disappointment in many areas. But given the current flock of potential potentates from the other party, I'll have no choice but to vote for him again.

Lee, Kurt, I don't have the time to respond properly this morning but I will offer the question about Roosevelt's reaction to December 7, 1941 to protect our country and our more recent 911 and it's aftermath. There are the same threats present now and are growing larger by the micro second. An administration that looks at disaster as an opportunity to insert ideologies that in many ways caused the disaster and brings on more while using every class warfare, race and angle buzz words as a distraction from a record (failed) just shows to me just how deceptive and hurtful the present policies are to the the strength, security and individuals well being. The Liberal voice has increased and co-opted the conversation since the '60's but the majority, I believe, are conservative and occasionally wake up and say "Okay, enough is enough." Those conservatives love the Parks also but won't destroy the country for the Chinese or the enemy within. Bigger picture out there from my view. I would like the conversation to avoid the common smear and snarky comments that so dominate the politics today. It's just to serious a situation and the unity that presents itself after the Pearl Harbors and 911s is dishonored.
I'll add this I read this morning:
Gotta go:)

Other thoughts on the run-up to the mess the World is in.
Flashback: "Never let a good disaster go to waste"
Okay, the Parks are calling:)!

Someone is listening to too much talk radio.

You're right Lee! These blogs are a poor substitute for real time in the wilds if joy is the goal:). Quit trying to steal my joy, lol!

Uh, anonymous... wasn't it the PRIOR administration that came out with the color coded paranoia levels, which tended to be escalated every time that the then President needed a PR bump? Pardon me for having to work hard to swallow your obvious agenda.

I agree. Too much radio and too much anonymity.

Could we get back to discussing the parks now?

From my critical view, what you describe Lee is just more attempts to show an effort while out of view doing just the opposite. Transparency, what's that? What of Fast and Furious (and other highly dubious political actions). With 2 US Border Patrol Agents and 200 Mexicans having been murdered with guns that were provided by our Justice Department for unclear and highly suspect motivations it seems like a valid oversight issue. You might ask the family and neighbors of the rancher murdered on his own place or even the Governor (Jan Brewer) who's attempting to do what the wholly political administration refuses to do, well. I am an Arizonan and it doesn't make me feel more secure watching Janet Napolitano horseback with uncomfortable Border patrol Agents along the border. That's my reality.

I wouldn't have guessed that you'd be in with the Occupy bunch. Please say it ain't so, Joe/Lee:).

The disturbing thing about this issue is that the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands consists of a majority of representatives that have openly professed their dislike of federal land, including a chairman saying that the very basis for his committee is unconstitutional. Isn't that contrary to the focus of the subcommittee? Maybe not because the HSNPFPL website lists increased recreational opportunities and economic development, not preservation, as its only goals.

Could it be a pendulum swing when there have been excesses in reach and policy? Can neither factions reach a willingness to see the benefits of the other? Pay the bills, allow the tax payers to enrich their experiences/lives and be practical in approaches to acquiring new properties? With the examples of assaults on a private lease in PRNRA and forced removal of historic inholdings in many NPS parks it's not really a stretch to expect an equal and like pendulum in the other direction.

Having Rob Bishop as chair of the House subcommittee that oversees national parks and other federal lands is like having the fox as chair of the chicken house. J.

If the pendulum would just stop in the middle there wouldn't be a problem. Make all of us in the middle pretty happy as uneducated and as incapable of making smart decisions as we may be.

We should be blunt about Bishop and his kind that are flooding the cable networks and beginning to elect their clones to congress. Bishop fundamentally opposes the constitution of the United States. The idea that the House congressional leadership would permit someone to be a chairman of a congressional committee who does not believe in the constitution is outrageous. The powers were provided to government in the constitution because America was failing without it. Utah, Bishop's state, would not be a state at all if you believed his insanity. The Louisiana Purchase, the Alaska Purchase, the Gadsden Purchase and the Mexican War brought all the unowned land in those vast territories to the United States Government. Collectively Bishop and his kind fundmentally oppose the fundamental institutions that have made America great, and not just the National Park System. Their views need to be called out, and inexplicably this is not being done by the President. Thank you Traveler for letting us know what is at stake with these congressional "leaders."