A united effort by hunting groups, local governments, and conservationists in general seems to have stopped (for now) the push by some House Republicans to make it easier to "patent" public land.
The future was too clear: Developers could form a bogus mining company, file a claim for anything (gravel?), do the tiny annual minimum of work required under the 1872 Mining Law to keep the claim valid and then, after a few years, take ownership of it at a low, low price. Then, ta-da! trophy homes! Anywhere!
The chief evildoer, to use the words of our Beloved Leader, is this character: Rep. Richard Pombo.
I need to call Senator Allard, in particular, and thank him for standing up for the good guys on this one. It's like the "Sagebrush Rebellion" nightmare of the Reagan years all over again.