WASHINGTON/SALT LAKE CITY – When Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduced legislation last month to transfer about 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of federally held public land to state control, he was bombarded by thousands of angry phone calls, letters and social media posts urging him to back off.
The pressure came from liberal environmentalists but also from the gun-toting, often conservative outdoors enthusiasts who are central to Chaffetz’s political base. Both camps fear that transferring federal lands to state control could open them up to drilling and coal mining rather than recreation and preservation.
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