Chip in a small amount to buy some federal land and free Tim DeChristopher from jail!

A college student, apparently acting on his own, has for the time being, at least, prevented the sale of 149,000 acres of federal park lands in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

[W]ielding only a bidder’s paddle, a University of Utah student just as surely monkey-wrenched a federal oil- and gas-lease sale Friday, ensuring that thousands of acres near two southern Utah national parks won’t be opened to drilling anytime soon.

Tim DeChristopher, 27, faces possible federal charges after winning bids totaling about $1.8 million on more than 10 lease parcels that he admits he has neither the intention nor the money to buy — and he’s not sorry.

“I decided I could be much more effective by an act of civil disobedience,” he said during an impromptu streetside news conference during an afternoon blizzard. “There comes a time to take a stand.”

The Sugar House resident — questioned and released after disrupting a U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease auction of 149,000 acres of public land in scenic southern and eastern Utah — said he came to the BLM’s state office in Salt Lake City to join about 200 other activists in a peaceful protest outside the building Friday morning. But then he registered with the BLM as representing himself and went to the auction room.

The article goes on to say:

Since the Election Day announcement of the lease sale, preservationists, conservationists, archaeologists, business owners, river runners, anglers and hunters have registered objections to the BLM’s plans to allow drilling in some of Utah’s most scenic redrock desert.

They challenged proposed leases near Arches National Park, the White River, the greater Desolation Canyon region, Labyrinth Canyon, the benches east of Canyonlands National Park, Nine Mile Canyon, the Book Cliffs and the Deep Creek Mountains.

Objections also have come from the National Park Service, members of Congress and John Podesta, the head of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, who said the lease sale should be halted or altered to accommodate environmental concerns.

Click here to read the entire story.

My friend Amy Goodman did a ten minute story on Democracy Now! on student/impostor/nuisance bidder/activist DeChristopher’s crime/act (depending on one’s vantage’s point) of civil disobedience:

There is now talk of raising money for DeChristopher to actually buy some of the land. It is doubtful that he enough people would be able to contribute enough for him to buy all the parcels. But it seems hardly out of reach that a fund raising effort in the blogosphere might raise just enough money for him to buy parcel one of land. That might make it more difficult for the U.S. Attorney in Utah to prosecute DeChristopher– a prosecution which would only make DeChristopher an instant martyr and catapult his story to the network news (where it should have been long ago– even setting aside the political and environmental issues, the human interest angle alone of what DeCrhistopher did is an extraordinary story).

But raising some money for him to make good on good on his bid allowing him to actually purchase one parcel of land would mean that some public lands… would be owned by… well, the public?

What a radical idea!

If anyone knows how to get in touch with DeChristopher (a phone number would be best), please email me at my Facebook account. Thanks.

Update: Besides turning DeChristopher into an environmental and/or media sensation, if the U.S. Attorney charged DeChristopher, the Obama administration’s Justice Department would have to make the decision whether to prosecute. But Obama’s transition chief, John Podesta, as noted above has opposed the sale. DeChristopher’s actions might have delayed sale of some of the parcels until after there is a new President.

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