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BLM RACES TO CLOSE PUBLIC ROADS & LANDS

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Debbie Coffey      Copyright 2012    All Rights Reserved.

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About every 15-20 years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rewrites a Resource Management Plan for areas that include not only rural areas, but big cities like Los Angeles.

Then, for the next 15-20 years, every proposed project, plan and Environmental Assessment is based on this Resource Management Plan (RMP).

HOW BLM CLOSES PUBLIC ROADS

With these RMPs, the BLM (along with the Forest Service) has ramped up limiting & closing off public access to public roads and lands. In RMPs (Route of Travel Designations), the BLM designates public roads as “open,” “limited use” or “closed” to Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs). This can include 4 wheel drive pickup trucks, not just All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes. Public lands can also be designated as “open,” “limited” or “closed.” Designations can change from “limited” to “closed.”

Supposedly, BLM and the USDA’s Forest Service are closing and limiting use of public roads and public lands to protect the resources of public lands. But, it’s important to consider the EXTENT to which they’re doing this. It goes far beyond protecting habitat.

For instance, at the Tavaputs Plateau in Utah, the BLM has been trying to close roads that lead to some of the most popular routes and scenic vistas in that county. It’s also the area where Bill Barrett Corp. is conducting a massive natural gas field development The BLM intends to close the roads for 30 years.

If these road closures are really about protecting habitat, then how can BLM possibly justify how your 4 wheel drive truck could cause more harm to the environment than a massive extraction project that has about 488 well pads (with 20 well pads in Wilderness Study Areas and 218 well pads in areas with Wilderness Characteristics), 164 miles of new roads, 3,390 acres of initial disturbance (before reclamation) and 1,705 acres of long term disturbance?

It seems that BLM, Forest Service and Congressional concern for protecting the environment is selective. While you’re being shut out, other “uses” (that are more likely to cause harm to the environment) are allowed to take shortcuts.

THE BIG CHANGE IN RMPs

RMPs used to be about 160 pages or less. Now, the new RMPs can be over a thousand pages (with an additional CD of Route of Travel Inventory Maps). The old RMPs had straightforward topics in the table of contents like land use allocations, livestock grazing, land tenure adjustments, oil and gas lease stipulations, and areas of critical environmental concern. More

Rural California Sheriffs face magnitude of issues

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SupportRuralAmerica.com

Sheriffs’ Events Committee

Siskiyou and Shasta Counties in California

Liz Bowen, publicist 530-467-3515

Rural California Sheriffs face magnitude of issues

By Liz Bowen

Red Bluff, CA. – In an unprecedented event, a panel of 10 county sheriffs will address Northern California issues on June 23rd at the Tehama County fairgrounds. Time is 1:30 p.m. Public safety is the number one concern shared by all of these Northern California sheriffs, according to Tehama County Sheriff Dave Hencratt, who is hosting this Support Rural America Sheriffs’ Event. With continuing cuts in county and state budgets, sheriffs are finding their resources diminished. Yet, county sheriffs are charged with the safety and health of the people. It is an expanding dilemma.

These sheriffs are committed to the “oath of office” they took to protect their citizens and will stand on the Constitution to address troubles head-on.

This is the fourth Sheriffs’ Event held this year following other Northern California counties of Siskiyou, Modoc and Trinity; and participation by county sheriffs is growing.

Sheriff Hencratt said the gatherings, which feature a panel of county sheriffs, are basically Town Hall meetings. “It is a chance to talk about our issues,” said Sheriff Hencratt, who adds that these sheriffs truly have a “handle” on a variety of concerns and situations affecting their counties.

“We’ve got your back,” Hencratt stated. “We are here to be reasonable and do what is right.”

A rural tax base that once existed from timber, mining and agriculture are either non-existent or threatened. Over-regulations by some environmental government agencies are affecting businesses and rural society as a whole.

Sheriff Hencratt explained there are four National Forests in Tehama County. He claims, under federal law, his county government should have equal say regarding policies and regulations over those lands managed by U.S. Forest Service.

“Road closures in the National Forest will hamper our law enforcement functions,” he said, adding that a Coordination Committee is working through the process of engaging with the federal agency. The goal is to affect federal regulations and re-open roads that citizens utilize for multiple purposes, including recreation and the ability to fight forest fires.

Sheriff Hencratt is pleased so many California sheriffs are participating on June 23rd. They include: Siskiyou Co. Jon Lopey, Del Norte Co. Dean Wilson, Plumas Co. Greg Hagwood, Trinity Co. Bruce Haney, Modoc Co. Mike Poindexter, Mendocino Co. Tom Allman, Glenn Co. Larry Jones, Humboldt Co. Mike Downey and Shasta Co. Tom Bosenko.

“Every time I listen to these other sheriffs, I learn something. I am like a sponge,” said Hencratt. “And it is gratifying there are so many citizens interested in hearing from us.”

The last three events have boasted 200 to 300 attendees, who are also excited to participate and ask questions. These citizens are hungry to hear from the local officials responding to local issues.

The next event will be hosted by Sheriff Dean Wilson in Del Norte County at the fairgrounds in Crescent City on July 14 at 2 p.m.

Support Rural America Sheriffs’ Events are free. A donation bucket is passed to pay for the rental of the building and basic costs. The Tehama Event will be held in a huge air-conditioned auditorium with seating available for over 1,000. Sheriff Hencratt hopes every seat will be filled. Tehama County Patriots are sponsoring the Event.

Vendors and groups with information to share are invited to participate by renting a 10-foot space for $20. If you need a table, there is an additional $10 charge. Call Patsy Molher at 530-527-6915; Erin Ryan at 530-515-7135; or Liz Bowen 530-467-3515 to reserve your space.

Youtube videos of past events are available at

www.supportruralamerica.com and www.pienpolitics.com

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