The American Lands Council was founded by Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory and Nevada County Commissioner Demar Dahl in 2012. Originally, the American Lands Council claimed that the public-lands transfer they advocated for was necessary for oil and gas drilling, however the group now says their mission is to “secure local control of western public lands by transferring federal public lands to willing States.” Perhaps the original mission statement of the American Lands Council has something to do with the 1997 survey conducted by the Utah Geological Survey that estimated the coal, petroleum and mineral reserves in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument could be in excess of $300 billion dollars at 1997 prices.

In 2013 the American Lands Council raised about $200,000 in contributions, the bulk of which came in the form of membership fees. Local county governments paid much of those fees, to the tune of $134,000. The balance came from contributions from individuals and corporations, including Americans for Prosperity. The main thrust of ALC’s efforts is to pay salaries to its staff with a little left over for lobbying congress. In 2013 about 50 percent of ALC’s total income went to pay the salaries of Ken Ivory and his wife, another 10% went to lobbying while the bulk of the remaining funds went to travel and office expenses. In 2014 Ivory made $135,000 as president of the ALC in 2014 while it spent just $15,000 on a lobbyist in Washington.

Ken Ivory has since stepped down as the president of the American Lands Council under a cloud of accusations by government watchdog groups who have filed complaints against in the ALC in Montana, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. Those complaints allege Ivory through ALC skirted the law when convincing local county administrations to pay the membership fees (that for the most part paid he and his wife’s salaries), in return for the promise that they could usher in a state-level takeover of public lands.

In early 2016, Montana State Sen. Jennifer Fielder, who is the vice chair of the Montana Republican Party took the helm at ALC as the CEO. Fielder’s history in the Montana state house is that of supporting legislation to transfer federal land to the states and in the past has served as a board member of the Sanders Natural Resources Council, a county-level natural resource advisory committee that advocates for local dominion of federal lands. During the standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, Fielder authored an op-ed supporting the militant’s armed occupation.

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