On the national forests alone, subsidized timber sales cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Subsizied grazing costs tens of millions per year. But the biggest subsidies are to recreation (including fish and wildlife recreation), totalling $300 million per year.
Yet just because the taxpayers lose money doesn't mean that timber companies, ranchers, or recreationists are getting any handouts. The bulk of the taxpayer-paid subsidies go instead to the bureaucracy. The people who try to manage the national forests and other public lands on the ground are doing the best they can, but the bureaucracy absorbs well over half the funds before they reach the ground.
I am convinced that we would all be better off without these subsidies. If recreationists paid their own way, the fees they paid would give public land managers incentives to protect scenic beauty and the other resources recreationists want. If funding for public land management came from the ground instead of from tax dollars, managers could do a good job without political interference and with instant feedback from users in the form of the fees people paid.
For more information about how user fees and decentralization can solve public land problems, see FAQs and other articles referred to in the Electronic Drummer. But if you agree that we should eliminate all subsidies to public land users, please join Subsidies Anonymous.
Since July, 1995, Subsidies Anonymous members have received a monthly email newsletter keeping them informed of efforts to reduce or eliminate federal subsidies to public land users. Past issues are posted on the Web.
Anyone can join Subsidies Anonymous by filling in the form below, though we encourage you to agree to the following pledge:
My name is (last name optional), and I am a subsidized public land user. I agree to give up public land subsidies provided other public land users give up their subsidies as well.
I use public lands for (check all that apply):
Minerals or oil and gas
As an agency employee
Last updated 12-1-95 by Randal O'Toole.