Railroads & Clearcuts
Umpqua Land Exchange (Endgame website)
Millions of acres of the 19th-century railroad land grants were not sold to settlers as Congress intended. More than a century later, this land is controlled by dozens of corporations -- and some of the largest holdings of coal, oil and gas, gold, and real estate in the country are based on these illegal transfers of public land grants.
These same corporations are now trading back to the public lands which have been clearcut and stripmined -- in exchange for yet more public land! Weyerhaeuser, Plum Creek Timber, Catellus, and other land grant-based corporations are arranging dozens of land exchanges involving hundred of thousands of acres of land grant checkerboards throughout the country. Other deals are outright public buy-outs involving millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
These exchanges and buy-outs are being facilitated by real estate companies, consultants, and others who stand to gain from multi-million dollar real estate deals. They deals are also being supported, and sometimes even arranged, by environmental groups trying to protect particular wild places. Of course the problem with land trades is that for every place you save, another place is being sacrificed. Organizations with political clout are saving their neck of the woods at the expoense of places and people who are so well-connected.
Western Lands Project
conducts research, outreach and advocacy for the reform of federal land exchange policy.
As a clearinghouse for information on land exchanges, the Western Lands Project:
Disseminates information about ongoing and planned land swaps.
Provides legal and environmental analysis of exchange proposals.
Networks with environmental organizations and communities affected by land exchanges.
Assists citizen groups with administrative or legal actions.
Consults with agencies that are planning exchanges.
Advocates at all levels of government for the reform of land exchange policies and regulations
Carving Up the Commons: Congress and Our Public Lands
Citizens Guide to Federal Land Exchanges
Commons or Commodity?
a report by George Draffan and Janine Blaeloch
Western Lands Project
PO Box 95545, Seattle WA 98145-2545
Phone (206) 325-3503 / Fax (206) 325-3515
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