An Oregon citizens coalition calling themselves Give Us Our Land Back is petitioning the US Congress to return ownership of federal land in Oregon to the counties of Oregon.

All US Forest Service, Bureau of Management, and National Park Service lands in Oregon will be given back to the counties, if the "Petition To De-Federalize Oregon Lands" is successful.

The online petition is at http://giveusourlandback.org.

In an letter on the website, Give Us Our Land Back executive director Mike Dubrasich wrote, "The Federal Government is trustee of 53% of the landbase of Oregon, and they have violated that trust exceedingly.

"The Federal Government has denied the rights of Oregonians to care for and steward our own forests, watersheds and rangelands; imposed fees and duties on us for use of our own public lands; erected locked gates and refused entry to the People of Oregon into our own public lands; burned vast tracts, incinerating the wealth of Oregon; destroyed our wildlife; polluted our air and water; fouled our streams; introduced exotic pests -- and in so doing our homes, businesses and communities have become bankrupted, our schools, roads and public safety have been threatened, and our economy has been crippled."

"The best stewardship arises from local ownership and jurisdiction. We residents of Oregon know our environment, appreciate and understand our watersheds, forests, and rangelands, and wish to assume responsibility for our own environment -- which is our birthright, heritage, and legacy to future generations."

"Oregon is not a colony. We are a state with the same rights, responsibilities, and equal footing with every other state in the Union. ... In order to rectify this untenable situation, we have prepared a petition to the U.S. Congress, respectfully requesting redress of our grievances by returning ownership of our public lands to the Counties."

The goal of Give Us Our Land Back is not privatization. "We wish public lands to remain public, but owned and managed by counties, not the Federal Government".

"The justifications for transferring title of federal lands back to the counties are constitutional, pragmatic, and ethical," stated Mr. Dubrasich. "The land rightfully belongs to the residents. We can do a far better job of stewardship and resource conservation of our local environment than any Washington DC bureaucracy. Justice is best served by local control."

Give Us Our Land Back is collecting signatures from across the U.S. To date citizens from 25 states have signed the Petition to De-Federalize Oregon Lands.

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