This week Chrissy Wozniak speaks with Ben Burr, Executive Director of the BlueRibbon Coalition, about their opposition to the Bureau of Land Management's proposed rule to sell public land to highest bidder - called the Conservation and Landscape Health Rule.
The Bureau of Land Management states in the proposed rule:
"The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes new regulations that, pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), as amended, and other relevant authorities, would advance the BLM's mission to manage the public lands for multiple use and sustained yield by prioritizing the health and resilience of ecosystems across those lands. To ensure that health and resilience, the proposed rule provides that the BLM will protect intact landscapes, restore degraded habitat, and make wise management decisions based on science and data. To support these activities, the proposed rule would apply land health standards to all BLM-managed public lands and uses, clarify that conservation is a “use” within FLPMA's multiple-use framework, and revise existing regulations to better meet FLPMA's requirement that the BLM prioritize designating and protecting Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs)."
Burr states that "this rule is problematic and should be withdrawn. At the BlueRibbon Coalition we are working to unite public land users of all types to oppose this rule for the following reasons:
First, the Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have the authority to create this rule out of administrative thin air. FLPMA doesn’t contemplate a conservation lease scheme, and if Congress wanted the BLM to administer such a program, they would have expressly authorized it. This scheme would also likely raise revenue for the government, which again, is something BLM doesn’t have authority to do. Only Congress, can authorize a new program like this that raises revenue for the government.
Second, this rule won’t work. I have reviewed BLM project files where the agency and high-minded conservation organizations have entered into agreements to manage land towards conservation priorities. In these cases, all parties to the agreement flagrantly neglected to uphold the terms and conditions of the agreement. If the conservation leases don’t have any teeth for non-compliance, then they could cede management control of public lands to 3rd parties at the same time the public will have few if any tools to hold the 3rd parties accountable for non-compliance.
Third, this rule is unnecessary. The BLM is already required to comply with dozens of other laws and executive orders to prioritize conservation on public lands. Scores of environmental lawsuits that get filed every year ensure that the compliance with these laws is taken seriously. Despite the statutory requirement the BLM has to manage public lands for multiple use, conservation is prioritized above all other uses on a regular basis.
Fourth, this rule could easily lead to unintended intervention into public land management by foreign governments.
As a leading national non-profit that works to protect recreation access to public land, at the BlueRibbon Coalition we are worried that this rule will be used to limit motorized recreation, dispersed camping, and all other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands. This rule will be a way for conservation organizations to create de facto wilderness, where they have failed to get Congress to make such restrictive designations. The $800 billion outdoor recreation industry thrives because of BLM’s careful efforts to balance conservation with other uses. By prioritizing conservation even more than it already is, we will undermine an industry that is fueling the livelihoods of many who live in the West."
Join the BlueRibbon Coalition and sign the letter at - https://www.sharetrails.org/add-your-organization-to-our-letter-opposing-the-bureau-of-land-management-conservation-rule/
To comment on this rule to BLM follow this link - https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/04/03/2023-06310/conservation-and-landscape-health
North American Ag is devoted to highlighting the people & companies in agriculture who impact our industry and help feed the world. Subscribe at https://northamericanag.com
Need help with your agriculture based company's marketing plan? Visit https://chrissywozniak.com