Rich Man’s Paradise Club

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This land was made for you and me.

 

Imagine driving for hours down a dusty Nevada road. That endless kind of dirt road found in the Great Basin. The packed stone and clay are capable of holding a vehicle at high speeds for great distances, arcing in an almost perceived slow motion across tides of sage and sand. You’re on your way to one of your favorite hunting spots – a sparsely visited range far from the beaten path. It’s only signals of modernity beyond the end of the road are the crumbling foundations of a Basque cabin near a spring smothered in cottonwoods and aspens. Nobody has laid claim to this land since those beloved pioneering basquos packed it in a century ago and it returned to the public domain. There are carvings in the ancient aspens. Depictions of an often lonely and vividly lucid people who saw no one from the outside world for months, years. There’s a much more ancient art form adorning the rocks on the mountainside. Ancient homages to creatures long since vanished from the land from ancient hunters who soon followed. There are arrowheads where you would expect them. High on the bluffs and benches where the first people to call this place home found their meals. These places still hold game, and you feel timeless retracing the footfalls of the hunters who came before you. You sometimes find signs of modern wilderness seekers like yourself, a spent cartridge here, a new fire ring there. Yet the deer, the sage grouse and the antelope pass through time like they have for thousands of years despite the comings and goings of our species. It’s not your own private paradise, but it feels damn near it. You couldn’t afford this place in 10 lifetimes even if there were a reasonable price tag attached to it. No reasonable man could ever quantify a monetary value on these lands; it’s beyond our capacity to do so. This is our national rite, our shared treasure of wilderness and enjoyment that belongs to everybody equally.

These thoughts come to an end when you reach the cattle guard that divides the BLM lease land from this sacred range. In front of you there’s a brand new gate, locked and chained tightly under a bright and shiny sign that reads “No Trespassing”. The moniker on the sign above it – “Rich Man’s Paradise Club.”

Earlier this month snake oil salesman Texas Senator Ted Cruz tried to slide an amendment into the 2014 Sportsmen’s Act that would force the federal government to sell off a large portion of our public lands. The amendment would prevent the federal government from owning more than 50% of the land in any state. Luckily the Sportsmen’s Act failed, but not from this particular amendment. What killed the act in the senate after making it through congress were gun control amendments that were also added by Senator Cruz. That fact alone should make you fear the impending auction of our public lands. If this did pass it would seem like a resounding victory for states rights advocates, but only the congressional puppet masters who populate places like the Rich Man’s Paradise Club would see any reason to celebrate. The members of that club have diverse interests, aside from their penchant for guided and fenced in pay to play game hunting on private lands. They own oil and gas companies, mineral extraction companies, and many of our supposed representatives in Washington.

I’m sure the states would purchase some of the land, but they can’t compete with the high rollers of the Rich Man’s Paradise Club (We’ll call them the RMPC from here on). Even if Nevada did purchase the 30% of the state that the feds would be forced to sell – 16,983,091 acres*, a chunk of land slightly larger than the state of West Virginia, the state could never afford to manage that much land on it’s own dime. It would be forced to sell them, and probably at a cheaper price, to the members of the RMPC.

*Figure based on Nevada public lands being 80% federal.

I know that I have complained about federal management before and I will again, and you are probably in the same boat. Glass houses, stones, you know the drill. But the fact remains that even though we may not always be happy with how our lands are run and managed, they are still our lands when all is said and done.

If you’re yawning and unthreatened at the proposed figure of a 30% federal land sell off in Nevada, chug an espresso, a beer – whatever will get you going. Utah has already gone forward in the process to take control of ALL federal lands within it’s borders.

Utah has 31 million acres of federal land, Idaho has 32 million, Montana has 25 million, Colorado 23 million. That’s a lot of our land on the block for the highest bidder, who won’t have the public’s best interest in mind.

My dear fellow Westerners, if this proposed private land grab still doesn’t get under your skin, let’s take a look at Senator Cruz’s home state of Texas. Out of a total of 168,217,600 acres in the Lone Star State, 2,977,950 of them are federal. This includes National Parks and Monuments. Out of those nearly 3 million acres, 1.5 million acres are open to the public to hunt, fish, and recreate. For comparison let’s look once again to Nevada. Out of a total state acreage of 70.2 million acres, 53.7 million are open to the public, for hunting and fishing and general recreation. **

To further simplify – Texas has 1% of it’s giant land mass available for public use. Nevada has 76.5% open to the public.**

**Figures and statistics come from here.

We don’t want to be like Texas. I have family there, and they are avid hunters. My brother hunts tiny swathes of public land, and it’s an alien thing for him to do after growing up hunting the vast public tracts of the West. I applaud him for still pursuing his passions, but even he will tell you it’s a strange and frustrating world when you’re crammed into tiny parcels of land with massive amounts of people who probably feel the same as he does, and have the same ambition to feed their families. On the other side of the Texas hunting coin is my brother-in-law. He buys hunting leases, usually more than one, every year. When I spoke to him this past 4th of July he said they average $1,000 a season, often more. You will often get your solitude on these bought lands, but you’re still hemmed in to a tiny piece of land in the grand scheme of things. And you’re paying as much for your meat as you would for a trip to public land out West.

I know it’s rather draconian to think that Nevada will become New Texas, but I don’t want my favorite spots to belong to the RMPC. I don’t want to be fenced off from the places I love and cherish along with my friends and family. I’d rather stick that in the forefront of my mind and be vigilant than ignore the possibilities and pretend nothing is going to change. I don’t want to tell tired old tales to my children of what it was like to roam freely in the wilds. I don’t want them to be born into a world in which privilege dictates access to the land. Our Western heritage is bound to the land we all own together. Outside is free, and we all need to fight to keep it that way.

Regardless of political party affiliation, state residency, or type of outdoor use we prefer we are all outdoorsmen and women. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bowhunter, mountain biker, rock climber, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, wingshooter or any other passionate seeker of what our vast public tracts have to offer, we have to stand together to keep intact our identity and heritage as Westerners, Americans, and lovers of the natural world.

What can you do right now to help, you ask?

Go bother your congress person, your senator, your state representative. If they aren’t in the RMPC they just might care if enough of you bug the living hell out of them.

Better yet, you can support these fine groups who have more sway in Washington than you or I. Join up, it’s cheap and the money goes a long way.

Join Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Join the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Join Trout Unlimited

Join the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Join whichever gunslingers you find that represent your outdoor interests in the swamphole known as Washington DC.

And most importantly, tell your friends, tell your family, tell that crazy hobo street preacher what’s really coming around the mountain. I’m sure you have some people that will take up this cause. We need numbers to fight the RMPC, Ted Cruz, and all the short-sided lackeys who play ball at One Percenter Stadium.

Now get busy.

 

 

 

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27 responses to “Rich Man’s Paradise Club

  1. I am a native Texan. I concur with you. I moved to Wyoming for honestly two things: to get away from the heat, and public land hunting. Texas is “pay to play”….and you have to pay metric shit ton. What really chaps my ass is the fact that these globalist turds (like Mr. Cruz..aka: mywifeisavpforgoldmansachs) are hiding behind the new “liberty movement”. Now don’t get me wrong, Im a libertarian too, but I can also see the forest for the trees. Just because someone uses the catch phrase words like “constitution” “liberty” “freedom” and “rights”, doesn’t mean shit when their ACTIONS are nothing more than “status quo”. I’ve been dragging my ass on ponying up to the table, but I’m joining the RMEF, the BHA. Its time to put my money where my mouth is.

    p.s. If they sell off OUR public land, I guess I’m just going to become a trespassin bandito……I bet I might bump into the “nacho hermanos”

    • Beware when you speak of the Nacho Boyz.. their mother was a volcano with owl ears..

      Politics is disgusting, and the people who take part in it are less trustworthy than streetwalkers. I’d rather have some people more level headed and temper controlled than myself persuade these creatures to take the right cookie. Backing these outdoor NPOs is the best shot we have.

  2. Amen, brother.

    I cannot believe your timing on this topic since I just wrote a slightly more female/poetic/fluffery version of this a week ago for a blog post I am putting up today. I always appreciate your passionate, intelligent, fiery writing. I’m waiting on the edge of my seat for your book deal. I think you are one of our future Wallace Stegners. 🙂 Which is to say I think you’re a hard hitting advocate of the interior West who has a way with a pen and paper. Stay dope and keep on keeping us educated.

    Also, I wanted to add that recently, while at home in Canada, I found myself feeling horrified by how un-free the land there felt to me. Out at my dad’s quarter section North of Saskatoon it’s fences as far as the eye can see cutting through prime hun, grouse, moose and whitetail territory, decoupaged with orange trespassing signs running North to the jackpine and birch until the bush becomes impassable and a girl has to be in a canoe on water to go places.

    Let’s not. Let’s not lose our space, our freedom and the legacy of wild, wide open spaces here in the West.

    The West is priceless.

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  4. The richest of ironies being that everyone of these 1%ers who would facilitate our public lands being swallowed up by private interests are more that happy to suckle from the federal teat that is irrigation in the West. Great post.

    • What else do you expect? A bunch of irrational screaming babies are being paid to run our country on our behalf. There is no shame in Washington.

  5. Excellent article.Obviously we don’t have alot of Federal land here in Kansas (@300,000) but will definately add BackCountry to my list of organizations that i join and support – not only for me and my family, but future generations, and my brothers & sisters out west. Hopefully one day I will be able to go out West and be able to still enjoy access.

  6. I loathe Ted Cruz and his phony gravitas…although it makes me nauseous I try to keep up with what our sleazy politicians do but this amendment was news to me. A rich mans land grab cloaked as states rights…disgusting. So glad I stumbled on your blog, love your writing!

    • Keep watching the sleazy bastards, and stay nauseous. As one of my favorite songs states – “Ordinary people do fucked up things when fucked up things become ordinary.” Thanks for the kind words.

  7. Great post, man. Haven’t been on the computer or reading blogs much lately so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. This was a good one to start…

  8. Unclelarry,
    A buddy of mine and I were taking a ride up into vermont this past weekend for alil escape and fishing. At a gas station along the way, I spontaneously burst into laughter. There in front of us was a massive chrome wheeled, tint windowed, sattelite tv equipped camper. As my buddy and i began to ramble on about the douche baggery oozing from the thing i noticed something…Written On the side of this behemoth in the boldest of print was the word “cougar.”
    Well played sir…and a good call from an earlier classic of yours. I even took a pic to attempt to coax a chuckle out of u with that but cant attatch. Oh well…u clearly know the look..haha…cheers.

    -dave

    • Haha man the one time I went back east and camped I thought I was in a luxury RV sales lot.. Kids running around with bear bells and RVs stacked three feet apart.. A fun game is to add the word Anal to the front of any RV name.. It never gets old.

  9. As a tip of the hat towards yourself I wanted to let let you know that I joined BHA yesterday. This post was a major impetus in breaking my eternal procrastination.

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  11. Note: I wrote this for our local weekly paper.

    The land transfer issue would be a serious problem for Montanans down the road. Hope you find this useful. Thank you.
    My phone for your purposes—-4067828680

    GREED IS WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT.
    HR 1526 is a bill passed by the House of Representatives recommending transfer of public land management to the states. This land transfer is also recommended by Montana’s state and local Chambers of Commerce.
    HR1526 is an effort by the wealthy to take public land from the middle class of this country. Do we want to end up like Texas where citizens have absolutely no opportunity to recreate on public land because only 1.9 % of Texas is public land, where wildlife and resources are privatized? Texans have to pay for all those privileges that are free to Montanans.
    Who would be adversely affected by transferring federal land to states? Everyone who uses federal land for any purpose be it wood cutting, grazing land lessees, access to private land, hunting, fishing, outfitting, skiing or just recreation. At present public lands do not create enough income to pay for maintenance and management. The federal government pays the shortfall. Montana cannot afford such shortfalls. Montana would have to look for alternative ways to 1) increase income from undervalued properties, 2) decrease expenses, or 3) sell them.
    Those desiring to transfer federal properties to Montana know we cannot afford the associated costs. They want to own our public land. Once sold, few Montanans will be able to afford the benefits all Montanans currently enjoy. The question for Montanans is: how would a federal land transfer to Montana affect your family and your way of life?

    Harold Johns
    1024 Placer St.
    Butte. MT 59701

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