To the editor:

The Constitution grants the federal government authority to own property for the seat of government (Washington, DC), to purchase property from states for naval and other military installations and for "other needful buildings" (e.g., federal courthouses), and nothing more. There were no federal lands in the original 13 states. Neither did the Constitution authorize federally held land.

On Oct. 10, 1780, the Confederation Congress pledged that all land ceded to it "shall be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States, and be settled and formed into distinct republican states, which shall become members of the Federal Union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the other States."

When the Constitution was written, the Founders kept their 1780 promise to give unsettled territory to newly formed states. Thus, Article IV, Section 3, provides for the formation of new states and grants Congress "power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States..."

Note that this is a power to dispose of territory, not to own and control any land, except as noted above. Any unsettled land within the new state was to become the property of that state. There were to be no federal lands.

The federal grip on what are now called "public lands," is so tight, and its control so extensive, and our people so brainwashed, that most everyone yields to the myth that these lands belong to the federal government and that our use of them comes by permission of the Bureau of Land Management.

The Constitution authorizes no federal lands! Until Congress reins in the federal courts, it is a waste of local taxes and legal fees to sue in federal courts to gain access to that which the states and counties already own.

There could hardly be a more preposterous way to tackle the land-use farce. The existence of the BLM did not flow from the Constitution; it came into being by an act of Congress. That is where the battleground should lie. Congress had no power to create a bureau to manage land that the federal government has no constitutional authority to own in the first place.

Only public ignorance allows this endless nonsense to continue. The same ignorance brings false hope for a merciful federal court, where, even if you win, you lose. How is that so? That's because the Insider-financed eco-lobby will appeal the case, and your tenuous "win" will be reversed by a higher court. Going to federal court to settle federal, unconstitutional issues, is a complete waste of time and money.

Congress is the key, and that key will work only when the voters turn it.

At 7 p.m. on Feb. 12, a meeting will be held at the Smithfield Rec Center.

Kris Petersen