- Special to The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Another government land grab is on the way. The U.S. Senate — just this past Sunday, a traditional day of rest — found time to pass a bill to preserve 32,000 acres in Michigan from further development, human activity, and bicycles.

The most interesting aspect of this particular preservation bill, however, is that the selected acres are already being preserved. The 32,000-acre parcel is part of a 72,000-acre park, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, maintained under the National Park Service umbrella. So why the dual protections?

H.R.163, currently in the House Natural Resources Committee for debate, would ultimately designate this parcel as a federal wilderness area, bringing with it even more stringent protections — and regulatory controls — than the comparatively relaxed NPS park designation. Read this, from the formal Wilderness Study and Proposal submitted to the Interior Department for consideration:

“Once wilderness … is designated, a wilderness management plan is typically developed to guide preservation, management and use of NPS wilderness areas,” the proposal states. “Wilderness management plans … articulate management actions such as regulations, monitoring and permit systems.” Of special note: “Public use of motorized equipment or any form of mechanic transport is prohibited, except as provided for in specific legislation. Operating a motor vehicle or possessing a bicycle in wilderness is prohibited.”

Possessing — not just riding or operating, but merely possessing — a bicycle is prohibited under wilderness land law? (Can you say Communist Manifesto?)

That’s not even the worst of this wilderness plan. In a little known 2009 agreement, the U.S. practically gave away its rights to control designated wilderness lands to Canada and Mexico. Called the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Wilderness Conservation — and signed by officials with the NPS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Parks Canada Agency, the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas for Mexico, and the U.S. Forest Service — the agreement, in short, commits our nation to collaborative efforts for preservation projects. That means when land is being considered for a wilderness tag, it’s Canadian and Mexican government interests, rather than U.S. landowners and taxpayers, that come first.

Right from the memorandum: The signing parties agree to explore ways to “advance wilderness conservation” and “exchange information … on innovative approaches to governance of wilderness areas.”

If you thought the National Park Service was bad, imagine what Canadian and Mexican influence could bring.

But wait. The news gets worse. All of the bill’s sponsors and co-sponsors — all six Michigan legislators — are Republicans. Yes, Republicans.

Where’s the party of small government now?

Cheryl K. Chumley is a digital editor with Times247.