Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hunters fear loss of access if public lands sold, transferred - Full Article

Zach Urness , Statesman Journal
Feb. 16, 2017

In the coalition of groups opposed to the sale or transfer of federal public lands in the West, no one plays a more important role than hunters, say experts.

A crucial demographic for Republicans in the West, hunters have made it difficult for conservative lawmakers to advance legislation disposing of public lands, said Jim Moore, a political science professor at Pacific University.

“It’s not a group that Republicans want to piss off,” Moore said. “They are a core group — NRA members and more Teddy Roosevelt-style Republicans. Their opinion matters a lot.”

One reason hunters have bucked the Republican platform and opposed public land transfers is a fear of losing access to hunting grounds.

“(We) adamantly oppose the transfer of our public lands out of public hands,” said Duane Dungannon, state coordinator for the Oregon Hunters Association. “We also oppose the transfer or federal lands to the state. These are the public’s lands, not the government’s lands...”

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oregon takes big step toward privatizing Elliott State Forest - Full Article

By Rob Davis | The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Elliott State Forest took another big step toward being sold Tuesday.

Gov. Kate Brown had made a last-minute proposal to maintain public ownership of the 82,500-acre forest in the Coast Range northeast of Coos Bay. But Oregon's newly elected treasurer and secretary of state broke their silence about the forest's future, opposing Brown at a meeting of the three-member State Land Board.

State Treasurer Tobias Read, a Democrat, and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a Republican, both supported the ongoing effort to privatize the land and sell it to a logging company, which bid in conjunction with several Native American tribes and The Conservation Fund...

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Considering Trail Closures on Public Agency Lands: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Full Article

November 24, 2015, by ELCR

By Denise O’Meara

Equestrians on Public Land

Our public lands provide some of the most remarkable miles of horseback trails and open space in the country. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is one of the federal agencies that manage these sensitive lands. Other agencies include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the Army Corps of Engineers and others. States have many similar agencies that also manage publicly accessible lands. The purpose and responsibilities of these agencies may sometimes conflict with recreational use, and may necessitate removal of certain trail systems from use. Riders often don’t know why this happens or where to turn when it does.

US Fish & Wildlife’s function is to work with others to “conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.” While helping people to conserve and enjoy the outdoors, they must also provide protection of the species and their ecosystems. Their extensive responsibilities can be seen on their website at

Conflict and misunderstanding on each side occurs due to lack Trail closed no creditof communication and information. Fish & Wildlife managers don’t know what horseback riders need because riders don’t give make their needs known. The horse community doesn’t know the agency’s purpose, function and reason for doing certain things. It’s up to equestrians to help public land managers understand both the impacts and the advantages of horse and rider as trail and open land users.

ELCR Board President Ken Haddad, retired Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, reminds us how important it is for equestrians to participate in agency planning processes. In eight years of managing over 5 million acres of conservation lands, not one horse person stepped up or came to meetings to advocate for equine access. Ken found that he was the singular advocate for horse interests.

Fish & Wildlife Particulars

The Service performs many functions, including management of wildlife refuges, determination of sensitive lands and critical habitats (home to threatened and endangered species) and assessing damage to habitat by human activities and natural phenomena.

Fish & Wildlife periodically carries out habitat assessments. An Environmental Impact Statement and a Comprehensive Conservation Plan will be formulated. In addition, Determination of Compatibility studies are done for recreational and other activities on sensitive lands and Reserves. It’s critical for equestrians to be aware of when assessments and planning are being carried out, and to become involved in the public input process. Once an activity is deemed (or thought) to be responsible for damage to sensitive land, action will be taken to remove the cause and fix the problem (restoration).

When the Horse Community Participates-An Example

The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Comprehensive Conservation Plan is an example. The draft includes 88 comments about equestrian trails. (See pp. 205-208, section Horseback Riding/Equestrian Trails). Interestingly, unfavorable comments come from non-equestrian participants. The Service addresses misconceptions about horses in an often positive way, though they may not translate into the actions and access that equestrians may most desire. (

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

House votes to kill BLM “Planning 2.0” rule aimed at giving residents of Colorado and the West greater control over public land - Full Article

By Bruce Finley | | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: February 7, 2017

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to kill a federal rule that gives Americans more of a voice in large-scale planning for projects using public land, including 8.4 million acres in Colorado.

The action launched by House Republicans, including sponsors Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, would nullify the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0” rule that took effect in December. That rule governs all planning for future uses of 250 million acres of federal public land that is concentrated in the West.

It was the third time in a week that lawmakers invoked the Congressional Review Act to strike at Obama administration environmental rules.The act lets them roll back executive action taken during the past 60 legislative work days — if the rule imposes excessive costs, exceeds agency authority or is redundant. On Friday, House lawmakers voted to zap the federal methane rule that requires oil and gas companies using public lands to control air pollution.

The BLM and methane-flaring measures now move to the Senate. If the rollbacks are approved, the rules would be eliminated and the BLM banned indefinitely from developing similar rules.

Last week, Congress killed the Stream Protection Act that required efforts to protect waterways near coal mines.

For Colorado, the impact of a rollback of the BLM planning rule is potentially huge. BLM officials developed the rule saying it would increase public involvement and incorporate the most current data and technology to decide whether and where drilling, mining and logging will happen on public land...

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

California: Marin bicycle activists demand better trail access, threaten disruptions - Full Article

A new mountain bike activist group is advocating for expanded access to Marin trails.

By Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal
POSTED: 02/02/17

A new mountain bike activist group advocating for expanded access is sounding off about the pace in which new trails are opening under the county’s roads and trails management plan.

The group, called New Paradigm Trail Group, flexed its muscle at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, as more than a dozen cyclists used open time to express themselves on the topic not on the supervisors’ agenda.

“We represent 40 percent to 45 percent of the users out there, but we’re relegated to less than 10 percent of the trails,” said David Carbonell, co-founder of New Paradigm Trail Group. “I don’t want to be 65 years old before I see my vision for trail access sharing in Marin County implemented.”

Adopted in 2014, the roads and trails management plan calls for authorizing the use of some currently unsanctioned trails and roads and the decommissioning of other trails. As the plan is implemented, trails once open only to hikers and horseback riders are being opened to bicycles.

Cyclists also voiced their opposition to the open space district’s decision to enforce a 15 mph speed limit using light detection and ranging devices, known as LIDAR, and to use surveillance cameras to ensure people aren’t using decommissioned trails.

In a statement of intent posted on its Facebook page, the New Paradigm Trail Group stated, “The RTMP is a failure, and its implementation must be modified or destroyed. We stand alongside Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Access4Bikes in demanding more trail access, but do not think the current tactics have gotten us the access that we need. We will be as disruptive as possible, acting within the guidelines of the law...”

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Utah’s Chaffetz backs off on plan to sell off ‘excess’ public lands - Full Article

By COURTNEY TANNER | The Salt Lake Tribune
February 2 2017

‘I hear you’ » Republican congressman’s move is lauded by conservationist groups.

Over "fear it sends the wrong message," Rep. Jason Chaffetz will abandon his bill that called on the Interior Department to dispose of or sell 3.3 million acres of "excess" public lands.

Chaffetz, R-Utah, had reintroduced the legislation in January, saying the disposal was "long overdue." He's backed off the plan since then, seemingly in response to the many conservationist groups that protested the plan on social media.

With the note "I hear you," the congressman vowed to withdraw the bill Wednesday evening on Instagram.

"I'm a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands," Chaffetz posted. "The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message..."

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wyoming: Another Public Land Transfer Bill Filed At 11th Hour - Full Story

By Melodie Edwards • Jan 31, 2017

A new public land transfer bill was filed this week by House Majority Floor Leader David Miller. The bill would allow the state to take over management of federal lands, and comes hard on the heels of a recently failed constitutional amendment that would also have given the state control over federal lands, an idea that’s been opposed by many sporting and outdoor recreation groups.

House Bill 293 revises an old law that has allowed such take overs for decades. Wyoming Wildlife Federation public lands coordinator Jessi Johnson said the old law is broad, and doesn’t specify things like whether those lands could then be turned around and sold...

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Republicans move to sell off 3.3m acres of national land, sparking rallies - Full Article

Land totaling the size of Connecticut has been targeted in a new bill in the Republican House, uniting hunters and conservationists in opposition

January 31 2017
Caty Enders

Now that Republicans have quietly drawn a path to give away much of Americans’ public land, US representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah has introduced what the Wilderness Society is calling “step two” in the GOP’s plan to offload federal property.

The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz, a Tea Party Republican, claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.

But many in the 10 states that would lose federal land in the bill disagree, and public land rallies in opposition are bringing together environmentalists and sportsmen across the west.

Set aside for mixed use, BLM land is leased for oil, gas and timber, but is also open to campers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts...

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