BRC NATIONAL LAND USE UPDATE
Secretary Salazar's "Conservation Directive" – New Policy Initiative or Red Meat for Wilderness Zealots?
Dear BRC Action Alert Subscribers,
BRC's Public Lands staff has a popular feature they call "BRC's Recreation News." Known as the "Rec News" by the staff, it's a snapshot of breaking news and issues by state with links to the stories and commentary. BRC's Public Lands Department staff scans the World Wide Web and the different media outlets in order to bring you the information about those issues that matter to you. BRC's Recreation News is the place to go to stay on top of the issues.
Today the Rec News features comment and review of the recent "Secretarial Order" by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, as well as an update from Greg Mumm, BRC's Executive Director, who is attending the National Landscape Conservation System Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While it contains plenty of "pithy commentary" we usually leave out of our Action Alerts, this edition of Rec News serves as an excellent National Land Use update. Rather than spend time writing a separate update, we decided to feature today's Rec News as an update, and encourage our members to subscribe to this popular new BRC feature.
All commentary aside, all of the National OHV advocacy groups, including BRC, are watching this Lame Duck session of Congress very closely. Any omnibus bill is a "pass all or nothing" scenario that allows legislation to become law that often would not pass the normal deliberative process Congress is supposed to provide the American public.
BRC's Public Lands staff hopes you will enjoy our humorous, yet serious analysis and commentary on Secretary Salazar's recent Secretarial Order.
Brian Hawthorne Ric Foster
Public Lands Policy Director Public Lands Department Manager
208-237-1008 ext 102 208-237-1008 ext 107
PS: Everyone at BRC wants to thank members who responded to our National BRC Election Update and Action Alert. Congressional staff report that they have received quite a few calls and emails, and we are hoping those calls will have an impact in Washington DC in the coming weeks. If you haven't already made your voice heard, please take action today.
Greetings BRC's Recreation News Subscribers!
There is only one item in today's Rec News, but boy is it a doozy! We weren't sure where to file it, actually. It could easily go into the "Red Meat for the Zealots" file, or the "Yawn, tell me what I don't already know" file!
Salazar orders conservation of public land in West
Um…okay. If you accept that the Secretary of the Interior has that kind of power over BLM managed lands (he doesn't — it is Congress, not an appointed bureaucrat, that has this type of power).
I talked to a reporter about the "order" and he wasn't happy with my comment. I told him I didn't see anything new here and that most of the stuff was already implemented by Salazar via a series of agency-wide instruction memorandum beginning as far back as 2009! That wasn't quite the pithy quote he was looking for.
I view Salazar's "order" as more yawn-worthy than groundbreaking. Remember that this was announced at the National Landscape Conservation System Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. It seems to me to be more "red meat" for the zealots within the agency than actual policy initiative.
I almost want to cut the Secretary some slack on this. With all the uncertainty hanging over his agency's budget, his staff probably needed a little bucking up! Especially after this week's release of the Government Accountability Office's annual fall update of long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies. It isn't looking good for any federal land manager's budget. Grand oratory from an appointed bureaucrat is all well and good, but even the most die hard agency employee can see the writing on the wall, and the writing isn't predicting big budget increases… You can read Salazar's "order" and his comments here.
Is Salazar's Head in the Sand?
There is one item in Salazar's memo that stuck out a little:
"Components of the NLCS shall be managed to offer visitors the adventure of experiencing natural, cultural and historic landscapes through self-directed discovery. "
There is a large contingent of BLM staffers (ideological Wilderness purists) who have this crazy idea that signage for recreation is somehow not appropriate. To these folks, the term "self-directed discovery" is agency-speak for "don't put up any trail signs."
Assuming I am interpreting this correctly, I don't mind saying that this is a dangerous game these agency people are playing at. BLM lands are very remote, and despite all the trappings of modern GPS locator and rescue beacons, a wrong turn on a hiking trail can be a life threatening experience. Not to mention expensive for the local county, who is usually stuck with the tab for search and rescue activities.
Speaking of Ken Salazar…
BRC's Director, Greg Mumm, is attending a big NLCS Confab in Las Vegas and he's been updating us at the BRC offices in Pocatello. You might think we'd be envious of Greg, enjoying the moderate Nevada weather and palatial accommodations of the JW Marriott Resort and Spa where the NLCS Summit is being held. (But wait, Greg isn't staying there. He prudently chose more modest accommodations. But, he did report the weather is nice.)
We've all been to these greenie confabs, er, I mean, agency conferences, before, and we know that, in reality, poor Greg deserves Hazard Pay for his service!
Greg was telling me that Salazar got a standing ovation from the crowd when he told them he had to get back to Washington, DC, to work on a new omnibus bill.
This statement, unlike his "order" is most definitely NOT red meat for the zealots. There is good reason to believe that Salazar is serious about helping push through a last minute public lands omnibus in the Lame Duck session of Congress.
BRC has been warning our members of this very real threat for weeks.
National BRC Election Update and Action Alert
Patrick Reis, reporter for E&E news is reporting that Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (NM) is assembling another huge omnibus package of more than 60 public lands bills!
Bingaman preparing public lands package for lame duck
As we've reported before, the Washington DC wilderness lobby looks at the Lame Duck as last-chance opportunity for a lot of bills on their wish list.
" Paul Spitler, national wilderness campaigns associate director for the Wilderness Society, said there are about 20 wilderness proposals covering roughly 4 million acres of public lands that wilderness advocates would like to see passed by this Congress."
The Washington, DC, Wilderness Lobby is gearing up their well oiled PR machine. For just one example, I'll post a blurb from Bill Meadows, from The Wilderness Society:
Post-Election Is a Prime Time for Public Lands Planning
Prime time indeed Bill. How else could you hope to get your radical agenda passed, except in a Lame Duck session of Congress!
BRC's patented Land Use Concern-O-Meter has been pegged in the red-zone for several months over the prospect of lousy bills being pushed through via a Lame Duck omnibus package. But the reality is that an omnibus is far from certain. James Coffin of Resource Publishing is much more fact-based in his reporting than most of the Lame Stream media, and his latest newsletter reports the prospects are less than certain:
"But it is not a given that Congress will even entertain an omnibus lands bill that would be designed to provide goodies to both Republicans and Democrats. Democratic leaders are not necessarily committed to an omnibus lands bill in a final lame-duck session beginning November 15. They have only talked about passing bills dealing with appropriations, taxes and international affairs. That doesn't leave much room for a lands bill. "
See: Wilderness supporters pin hopes on lame-duck omnibus bill
Having noted that a public lands omnibus is not a certainty, we want to emphasize our Concern-O-Meter is still pegged in the red zone – with good reason. The multimillion-dollar, foundation-funded Wilderness lobby is not to be underestimated, and they are pushing hard for passage of several bad-for-recreation bills, including:
CENTRAL IDAHO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND RECREATION ACT: S 3294, HR 5205. The Senate committee held a hearing June 16 on this bill from Idaho's two Republican senators. While the Obama administration generally endorses the bill, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter opposes it. And Sen. Jim Risch (ID) has renounced his original cosponsorship. The House passed a predecessor bill on July 24, 2006. Rep. Mike Simpson (ID) introduced the new version of the bill (HR 5205) this year in the House.
CIEDRA, despite its name, would offer little additional environmental protection and would close just over 80 miles of mountain bike trails and tens of thousands of acres of high-alpine snowmobiling.
MONTANA FOREST JOBS AND RECREATION ACT: S 1470 from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Senate committee held a hearing Dec. 17, 2009. Would designate 669,100 acres of wilderness and protect another 336,000 acres of special management areas in the Kootenai, Beaver Head-Deerlodge and Lolo National Forests.
S. 1470, despite its name, would close the nationally known "Mount Jefferson" snowmobile area.
ORGAN MOUNTAIN AND DESERT PEAKS WILDERNESS ACT (N.M.): S 1699 from committee chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) The Senate committee approved July 21. Would designate 270,000 acres of wilderness and protect another 110,000 acres of special management areas in land managed by BLM in Do¤a Ana and Luna counties.
BUFFALO GAP NATIONAL GRASSLAND (S.D.): S 3310 from Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
Although the amount of wilderness is not great, 48,000 acres, this bill is noteworthy because it would designate the first wilderness areas in the nation's grasslands. The wilderness is located in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.
OHV and snowmobile enthusiasts must speak up now. Our message must be simple and clear: No Public Lands Omnibus Bill!
Use our webpage for another one of our famous Insanely Easy Action Items.
Our No Lame Duck webpage has a lot of other information that will be helpful. And, as always, feel free to call our Public Lands staff with questions or comments.
Brian Hawthorne Ric Foster
208-237-1008 ext 102 208-237-1008 ext 107