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for people who care about the West

A Newtonian vision

  A cadre of policy wonks from some ultra-conservative think tanks decended on Capitol Hill Jan. 11 to tell sympathetic Republicans how they'd strip the budgets of the Department of Interior and the Forest Service. Representatives of the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy and Citizens Against Government Waste urged legislators to:

* turn over to the states most of the lands now in national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and wilderness areas (with the exception of crown jewels like Yellowstone);

* eliminate local zoning regulations on land use;

* abolish all federal energy conservation programs;

* eliminate the Department of Energy, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Geological Survey, and Bureau of Mines;

* and charge people to enter the U.S. Capitol.

"This is a very stark statement about what the Newtonian revolution may be about," says Colorado Rep. David Skaggs, D. "It is marketism run rampant - if we can charge for it, let's do it." In Colorado, Skaggs says, the proposals could mean federal land that amounts to more than one-third of Colorado could be turned over to state government or sold to private interests.