Congress Overreaches to Roll Back Americans’ Say in Public Land Management

Public Lands
Public Lands
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

WASHINGTON, D.C.-(Ammoland.com)- Sportsmen, landowners, and former Bureau of Land Management employees strongly criticized a move by senators and representatives to overturn the BLM’s revised land-use planning rule, known as Planning 2.0.

Using the obscure and rarely used Congressional Review Act, federal decision makers took a first step toward repealing the new rule and rolling back opportunities for the public to have more say in land management decisions.

In a statement, Senate co-sponsors of a Congressional Review Act resolution cite bad information about the final rule, namely that it fails to prioritize feedback from all stakeholders, including local governments. However, if lawmakers are successful, the BLM would be forced to continue using outdated guidelines for land-use planning established in 1983, which keep the public in the dark until very late in the planning process.

“It has been publicly recognized by county commissioners and conservation districts that the BLM took meaningful steps between the draft and final planning rules to accommodate requests from local governments and the public to improve the process,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Now, Congress is working to reduce agency transparency and limit the public’s ability to have a say in how their public lands are managed. While a few concerns might remain, Congress is going about this the wrong way.”

The Congressional Review Act is a little-known law that enables Congress to roll back regulations within 60 legislative days of their enactment. The BLM planning rule, while under development since 2014, was finalized in December 2016, so it falls within the window of eligibility for repeal by the CRA. The process has only been successful once.

“The Western Landowners Alliance supports the BLM’s efforts in updating planning to meet today's needs in the West,” says Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance. “There are opportunities for improvement, but not to the detriment of eliminating all the good progress that has been made to date. We believe working through the Secretary of Interior is the best way to achieve our goals and constructively address any remaining concerns with the rule.”

Most disturbingly, once a rule is overturned through the CRA, no new rule that is “substantially the same” can be developed.

“A Congressional Review Act repeal would eliminate Planning 2.0 and likely eliminate the BLM’s authority to revise their planning regulations ever again in the future,” says Jesse Juen, president of the Public Lands Foundation and a longtime BLM employee. “Instead of stripping the incoming Secretary of the Interior of his authority before he takes office, lawmakers should work with the new administration to make refinements to a planning process that many stakeholders championed.”

Hunters and anglers in Western states can click here to write their lawmakers and urge them to let Planning 2.0 stand.

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John Stewart
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John Stewart

There is a misconception as to the intent of the BLM Planning Rule 2.0 It says NOTHING about selling land or transferring land to state control. That is subject to different legislation. The “Planning Rule” as constructed provides good, bad and ugly. The worst, it does limit local and state government entities in their ability to work with BLM to craft management plans that mesh with local and state zoning, roads, and fire issues. The original planning rules are outdated and need to be revised. The new planning rule does provide the update. However, with its call for sweeping “landscape… Read more »

Paul Fitch
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Paul Fitch

Capitalism has many flaws, but that should not override our adherence to the Constitution. The Constitution is very specific about what lands the Federal Government can own. Transferring these lands to the their rightful owners, the citizens of the states (with stewardship of the lands the responsibility of the duly elected officials of the separate states) is the right thing to do.

If we don’t protect the Constitution in this matter, in what matters will we?

We must rein in the overreaching federal government and require that it live within it’s Constitutional bounds!

Justin
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Justin

Beg to differ. American taxpayers already own all of these lands. We entrust the federal government to manage them because no one state has the budget to do so. They have shown through past history that they can, and ultimately will sell them. Public lands are an American gift. We do on public lands what higher class do in foreign nations. The management needs redoing yes, but the way it is managed not the managers. Also the federal government that is congress has not passed a new budget for the department of Interior since 1996. How can you run something… Read more »

Colonialgirl
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Colonialgirl

Sorry but the Supposed “ownership” by the Feds is an out and out absolute VIOLATION of the Constitution. They should have NEVER had any control of the land. Let the voters of the STATE control the land via their representatives in the STATE government.
Any and Everything the Feds touch gets screwed up and mismanaged thanks to the greed of the COngress critters.

Wild Bill
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Wild Bill

@CG, Yes, everything that the Federal Government touches does get screwed up, in large part because they ignore or do not know the Constitution. Oh, by the way, what part of the Constitution says the the Federal Government can not own land?

Al
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Al

Help me in my confusion. There is nothing that says the land will be given away to someone who will not care for it or turn it into a parking lot. What’s to stop the states or private conservation groups from acquiring the and and caring for it. Why do people think that it’s their cause and the federal government should protect it? When I say the federal government, I mean me, a taxpayer. Here is an analogy for the slow folks. I enjoy using land owned by a state. The state says that it’s expensive to keep up the… Read more »

Wild Bill
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Wild Bill

@Al, The lands will fall into private hands. The land will go to political elites, or at least through them, to make big money, to big corporations. The corporations will do what they want with it. The land will be used for industrial purposes. Just look at how vast tracts of corporate land is used today. The land will not be cared for. The land will never be accessible to the public again.

Tionico
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Tionico

this is all speculation. The lands need to go to State control, then let each STATE determnine how it will be used, and funded,. FedGov have NO place owning/controlling “public” lands, So some land might get sold to “corporations”. Wanna guess where most of our timber for construction lumber comes from? Privately owned (as opposed to public/government owned) forest production companies…. I live in the West, and there are private timber lands all over here. Yes, “evil corporatioins” own.. and operate, them… GASP…. for PROFIT. What does that mean? Rape the lands and abandon them? Nope.. manage them as long… Read more »

Michael O.
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Michael O.

Nonsense.

Colonialgirl
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Colonialgirl

NOPE, Makes ABSOLUTE SENSE to me and shows a great deal of intelligence.