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.
Now, the table of contents lists Ethno-Linguistic overview, environmental justice, indicators of community economic strength, distribution of private sector employees, total economic value added by major sector, travel management and route of travel designations.
What does all this have to do with public lands and the environment? You might want to start asking questions.
The BLM is using aerial photography and GPS to “inventory” every last inch of anywhere you could possibly go. The USA is being inventoried down to the last speck of dust.
Yet, the BLM (also busy rounding up wild horses off public lands to the point of extinction) apparently wasn’t able to take even one photo with an old Brownie camera to prove their claim of supposed “excess” wild horses in some areas where BLM had the biggest roundups last year.
Even with so many new pages to RMPs, the BLM instructs:
“Chapter 3. Affected Environment (keep as short and concise as possible): Limit discussion to what is needed to understand issues and environmental consequences and provide context for the Goals and Objectives.” (BLM Land Use Planning Handbook, Appendix F, p. 16)
Limit to “what is needed to understand” by who? A gnat? (Yet, the BLM is delving into Ethno-Linguistics.)
BLM’s LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
In a 2010 article in the Billings Gazette, it stated that Wyoming “Elected officials working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management say the agency’s policy of closed-door land-use planning sessions is preventing them from sharing substantive information with the public, and that details of their work will be disclosed only after key decisions have been made.”
The public had reason for concern. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that the BLM approved oil and gas activities in violation of the law. Many of these were in Wyoming.
Some of the documents listed as references in The Bighorn Basin RMP (Appendix X-13) in Wyoming, were “Private Communication” between R. Fetter of the huge private military contractor Science Applied International Corporation (SAIC) to BLM employees in the Cody and Worland Wyoming BLM Field offices (2009), and between T. Robert Fetter of SAIC and D.T. Taylor, Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Wyoming (2009 & 2010).
I requested these documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and received the communications between the BLM employees and R. Fetter, but was informed that BLM couldn’t send me the other documents because “The records do not belong to the BLM and are not considered ‘Agency Records.’ Copies of the documents in question could possibly be obtained from the author.”
Hold your horses, does this mean that BLM Resource Management Plans are, in part, based on documents that could be secret and unavailable to the public?
The documents I received between R. Fetter of SAIC and BLM employees was about economic data to calibrate with IMPLAN (“IMpact Analysis for PLANning” databases and software). One document was about livestock and recreation (Laura Ziemke of ICF International was in on this e-mail loop, and the other was about oil and gas drilling and costs (a 20 year forecast).
As an aside, SAIC’s subsidiary, Varec, delivers “automated systems and professional services for most major oil companies worldwide.”
“The IMPLAN input-output accounts are based on industry survey data collected periodically by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and follow a balanced account format recommended by the United Nations.” (Michael Goodman, PhD, University of Massachusetts)
Could this format compliance pave the way for the INTEGRATION of international laws?
lists IMPLAN as a method to evaluate impacts of, and adaptations to, climate change But then, ironically, describes IMPLAN information as “The total industry purchases of commodities, services, employment compensation, value added, and imports are equal to the value of the commodities produced. Industries producing goods and services for final use and purchases for final use (final demand) drive the model.”
Also, IMPLAN “Can be used to look at the effects of adaptations such as changes in economic policies (e.g., removal or imposition of subsidies) toward agriculture.”
The United Nations’ “environmental” guise is really about trade, money and control.
BLM DOESN’T GO IT ALONE
The BLM outsources the preparation of Resource Management Plans and Environmental Assessments to private companies like Tetra Tech. Who is on the Board of Directors of Tetra Tech? Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto, and people involved with extractive industries, which makes it seem like there could be a possibility for a conflict of interest.
Each BLM Field Office has to justify the “need” for doing a new RMP, and will cite laws and regulations like FLPMA (Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976), 43 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).
The BLM claims authority to limit use of roads based on CFR43 Subpart 8340 (and to limit use of public lands based on CFR43 Subpart 8342). This is a Regulation.
Regulations are rules and codes issued (in other words, just declared) by government agencies (city, county, state and federal). Regulations aren’t laws, but they’re adopted under authority granted by statutes and can include penalties for violations.
CFR 43 Subpart 8340 also cites Executive Order 11644 (President Nixon) and Executive Order 11989 (President Carter). However, there seems to be an overly broad interpretation of these Executive Orders being implemented through regulation.
These regulations are a major change in direction for the USA. For one thing, it should feel oppressive that your travel is now to be “managed.” For another, we’re being denied access to land and roads that we, the people, own and pay for with tax dollars. The BLM and Forest Service are running you off of your land.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Type “BLM + Resource Management Plan + the name of your city” into a search engine to find out if a new RMP is being prepared for your area.
If an RMP is being prepared, tell your friends and neighbors about it, go to meetings and send an e-mail to comment. You should object to any limitation or closure of public roads and public lands. Tell the BLM you want the “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE.” This could leave the old Resource Management Plan in place, help keep public roads and public lands open, and possibly slow compliance to, and integration of, United Nations’ international laws.
BLM South Coast Resource Management Plan (Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino & Orange Counties) http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/palmsprings/Draft_Resource_Management_Plan_and_EIS.html
BLM South Coast Resource Management Plan of June 1994 http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ca/pdf/pdfs/palmsprings_pdfs/sc_rmp.Par.24754.File.dat/South-Coast-RMP&ROD-1994.pdf
BLM Land Use Planning Handbook: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ak/aktest/planning/planning_general.Par.65225.File.dat/blm_lup_handbook.pdf
Bighorn Basin Draft RMP/Draft EIS, Cody and Worland BLM Field Offices, Wyoming (Appendix X,
References regarding SAIC are on P. 532): http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wy/programs/planning/rmps/bighorn/docs/drmp.Par.90328.File.dat/03vol3.pdf
EO 11644 (President Richard Nixon) – http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/11644.html
EO 11989 (President Jimmy Carter) – http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/11644.html