Republican Congressman Louis Gohmert of Texas expressed sympathy for some of the concerns expressed by landowners and ranchers, especially in western state, over what he term “overzealous” actions by the federal government with regard to land use. The Texan is a member of the Natural Resources Committee in the House of Representatives. In a January 8 interview on C-SPAN, Gohmert responded to the interviewer’s question about the situation now unfolding in Oregon, where protesters identifying themselves as ‘Citizens for Constitutional Freedom’ are holding out at the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and demanding the devolution of the federally-controlled refuge to state and local control.
Gohmert said he does not approve of illegal occupation of federal facilities. “There’s a lot of concern,” said Gohmert, “and I’m not a fan of violating the law, taking over facilities that you don’t own, that you don’t have a right to take over.” He recalled that many of his “Democratic friends supported those kinds of things when it was called ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ even though people died, there was drug abuse, sexual assault allegations, all kinds of things.”
“I don’t support Occupy Wall Street. I don’t support occupying federal buildings illegally. But I have extreme concerns about the overzealousness of the federal government,” said Gohmert, “especially where it comes to areas where the federal government is taking more and more and more land.”
Using a map produced by the U.S. Geological Survey, Gohmert showed how extensive federal lands are in Oregon where private lands are entirely surrounded by federal jurisdiction. He complained that in some instances, landowners in Texas have been prevented by federal officials from accessing their own land.
While land has been acquired in some instances, said Gohmert, by Congressional action, there are also “slush funds every year that the government, BLM (edl note: Bureau of Land Management), Department of Interior, could grab more and more land.”
Gohmert said that before serving on the Natural Resources Committee, like many citizens, he thought that national forests and refuges are contiguous territories. He said that in reality they are dotted with private property that can be isolated from their owners by government fiat.