The last news we received on the Battle Mountain, NV, story was that the ranchers were able to turn out their cattle for two weeks on their BLM allotment, while the agency determined if they could stay out longer, and the “grass ride” made it to Carson City to deliver a petition to the governor to have BLM District Manager Doug Furtado removed from the district.
These protests against the federal land management agencies are turning up every day. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in southern New Mexico has denied an Otero County rancher access to his water. Ranchers assembled in Alamogordo, NM, a couple weeks ago to protest the forest service actions. County commissioners told the crowd that the rights of citizens are being trampled by the USFS and other agencies that claim authority over public lands. In response to the Obama administration’s abuse of power, county leaders have pleaded with Congress to intervene.
Ranchers and resource users are getting fed up with the multiple agencies attempting to regulate the federal lands. You have to hand it to Clive Bundy for getting the attention of the media and getting these issues back on the national stage.
Again, it is the Endangered Species Act that is causing the problems in New Mexico; the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, which is a candidate for the endangered species list, is leading the cause. They fenced off 23 sections to maintain habitat for a mouse that few people have seen. As a result, they cut off the trail that rancher John Bell used to get to the spring that supplies their water.
Apparently, environmentalists have sent letters of support to forest officials, saying the agency has a duty to safeguard water supplies on public lands. Wild Earth Guardians accused Otero County of “thuggery” for threatening to remove the fences. It’s odd that environmental groups don’t care about the lives of cattle, but support a mouse they will never see.
The federal land management system has become broken and ineffective. It seems that most federal agencies are poorly managed and there is a government culture that is failing to do their jobs. There are too many federal agencies that have a mandate to affect our public lands. Now the feds want to micromanage much of the land over issues like wildlife, water, grazing, timber, mining and climate change.
It’s getting a little out of hand; we could run a story every week on rancher’s disputes with these land agencies. We just learned of a story where The Western Watersheds Project took a rancher to court over a BLM management plan where they planned to haul water to livestock, which is fairly common on these desert ranches. The case is pending.
Aside from the federal agencies, we’re starting to see non-government organizations (NGO) like the Western Watershed Project, Center for Biological Diversity and a bunch of others that can have an effect on the federal government’s land management plans and rule-making process. Today I think there is a nonprofit NGO to advocate just about any issue you desire. It’s becoming a real problem.
Now it appears that this climate change dialogue is going to make its way into how federal lands are going to be managed. The Government Accounting Office said that the USFS, NOAA, Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service have all developed a strategic plan direction for addressing climate change adaptation through a variety of planning documents. The BLM has not done so. We’re seeing the government set up groups called the Interagency Land Management Group, and the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. These kinds of government groups give me the creeps because they could recommend some radical policy changes for land management agencies. The Obama administration is intent on changing the nation over climate change and they are going to do it without a blessing from Congress.
Just think about this New Mexico rancher’s battle over his water rights in a little creek. If EPA is able to get their expanded control over water in every little drainage in the country, it would be a huge disaster. Outfits like Wild Earth Guardians would be more than happy to help EPA use that law to get the cattle off the federal range. These federal agencies are out of control and their central planning ideals are threatening. It really is time for the States to get a handle on these federal lands that lie in their respective borders. We’ll talk about that next week. — PETE CROW