The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (whose stated mission is to "to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations") was all set to auction off about 150,000 acres of public land in Utah to oil and gas companies on the Friday before Christmas.
The whole auction was rushed to make sure it happened before the Obama administration takes office. Environmental activists were not happy, but despite Robert Redford's best efforts it looked like a done deal.
While many environmental groups launched campaigns to oppose the sale of the land, one student in Salt Lake City attempted to block the sale by disrupting the auction itself. Twenty-seven-year-old Tim DeChristopher posed as a potential bidder and bid hundreds of thousands of dollars on parcels of the land, driving up prices and winning some 22,000 acres for himself, without any intention of paying for them.
The Bureau of Land Management must now wait over a month before it can auction off these properties, but by then the bureau will no longer be run by the Bush administration.
So Tim, who probably has a few grand in outstanding college loans, hilariously owes the Bureau of Land Management $1.7 million. He'll likely go to jail, but it seems like he's cool with the trade-off. And anyone who'd rather have pristine land than oil rigs around Arches National Park owes him a thank you card.
It looks like he's saved thousands of acres of public land and he did so without damaging people or property. All those folks who go around setting new Hummers on fire or spiking redwoods or standing up in Congress in costume and shouting should take note.