CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
| NEWS RELEASE: for immediate release June 16, 2005
U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT’S NEW REGULATIONS UNDERCUT PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND THREATEN WILDLIFE & WATER WITH HAND-OUTS TO THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY
Contact: Greta Anderson, Botanist, Center for Biological Diversity (520)623-5252 x314
WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity and Forest Guardians decried the new Bureau of Land Management regulations released today that shift the emphasis on public land management from wildlife, water and environmental quality to the new stated aim of “improving BLM’s working relationships with ranchers.” The regulations give new rights to the livestock industry on the 160 million acres of land that it leases from the American people and make it harder for the average citizen to participate in on-the-ground decision-making. The rules also make it harder for the agency to respond when they find reductions in grazing are needed to protect the environment.
“We are disgusted but not surprised by this administration’s consistent concern for private economic interests at the expense of public awareness and involvement,” said Greta Anderson, Botanist and Range Restoration Coordinator with the Center for Biological Diversity. “These new regulations allow the fox to guard the henhouse, and other interested parties are left without recourse as soils, water, vegetation and imperiled species suffer from the economic exploitation of our public lands.”
These revisions will no longer require the BLM to consult with the public on several key issues: designating and adjusting allotment boundaries, renewing/issuing grazing permits and leases, modifying permits or leases, or issuing temporary permits or leases. This means that citizens will no longer be informed or have opportunity to participate in the management of our public lands.
“The Bush administration is making it clear that they want to take the ‘public’ out of public lands,” said Billy Stern, Grazing reform Program Coordinator for Forest Guardians. “BLM Director Kathleen Clarke claims the ‘regulations will produce long-term rangeland-health benefits’ including ‘increased vegetation along stream banks, which will reduce soil erosion and provide more habitats for wildlife.’ That sounds wonderful. However, only one of more than a dozen changes to the regulation has any potential benefit to streams and wildlife, while the rest move forward the administration’s agenda of privatizing public lands and limiting public involvement.”
The bulk of the regulatory changes give new rights to the industry making it harder to remove livestock from the publicly-owned lands managed by the BLM. Specifically, the regulations:
“These new regs are an unethical political scam from Interior Dept. political appointees in Washington DC," said Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity who formerly worked with BLM. "BLM is trying to reverse years of progress on rangeland restoration to serve a handful of cowmen at great cost to the public-interest,” “Wildlife, water quality, hunting, and fishing on public lands will suffer great harm if the Bush BLM has its way.”
The Center for Biological Diversity and Forest Guardians represent more than 15,000 Americans who believe public lands should be managed primarily for the conservation of fish and wildlife.