Archive for category Public Lands

President Obama Proclaims Bears Ears National Monument

Arch Canyon
Arch Canyon, Bears Ears NM / Manti-La Sal NF

Today President Obama proclaimed a 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument, which is just two-thirds the area proposed by the Bears Ears Coalition. Instead of sticking the right-wing with what they deserve, Obama fell short, in his usual “well, it’s better than nothing” style. The smaller-than-expected boundary is close to what Rep. Rob Bishop proposed in his Public Lands Initiative bill.

Of course the Tea-GOP is exploding with rage anyway despite Obama’s futile attempt to make them feel listened to. Via the Salt Lake Tribune:

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch on Wednesday issued a scathing indictment calling Obama’s action an “attack on an entire way of life” and an “astonishing and egregious abuse of executive power” that far exceeds the intent of the Antiquities Act.

“In the next Congress under President [Donald] Trump, I will do everything in my power to reverse this travesty,” Hatch said.

…Gov. Gary Herbert said he was “deeply disturbed” by the designation, by which he said the president “misused his authority” and “violated assurances made by his Interior Secretary [Sally Jewell] to take into account local concerns.”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said he is working with Herbert, the state’s congressional delegation and lawmakers on a lawsuit, “and we are confident in our chances of success.”

Comment in an e-mail from USA-ALL (right-wing anti-wilderness group):

We called this early in 2016. This is one we hate to be right about. There is much we could say about this…like how it will undermine the possibility of collaborative planning and compromises over disputed areas, like how shady and dishonest groups like SUWA are, or how naive and foolish native american tribes are for buying into the lies of enviros, and how the Obama administration cares little about REAL local input and doing the right thing for the land and the people…we could go on.

USA-ALL will make it our mission, in 2017, to convince the Trump administration to undo in entirety or part this latest assault.

UPDATE:
As much as I dislike SUWA, they have the right idea here:
TELL THE UTAH DELEGATION: HANDS OFF BEARS EARS!

More info:
Statement by the President on the Designation of Bears Ears National Monument…
Department of the Interior press release
Beauty of Bears Ears on Vimeo
BLM website: Bears Ears National Monument
Forest Service website: Bears Ears National Monument
Barack Obama Names Two New National Monuments Important To Native Americans Before His Term Ends
Chaffetz Outraged by Obama Decision to Impose Unwanted Midnight Monument in Utah (Note: This is on Rep. Chaffetz’ website, and you can leave a comment!)
Utah Attorney General Vows To Sue Obama Over New National Monument

5 Comments

BEARS EARS!

Photo by Tim Peterson

Late Christmas present from the Obama administration.

THANK YOU FROM UTAH!

4 Comments

Michael Jackson’s Greatest Song And Video

And you thought it was “Thriller”.

6 Comments

Privatizing Comb Ridge: When ‘Public’ Land Isn’t Really Public

Privatizing the Comb Ridge from Friends of Cedar Mesa on Vimeo.

A key square-mile parcel of Comb Ridge near Bluff is being sold by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), ignoring the majority of Utahns who commented on the proposed sale. I attended a public hearing about this land sale in Bluff on June 7. SITLA Director David Ure opened the meeting by explaining that the state-owned lands he manages are not in fact public lands although many people have that impression. The SITLA holdings, he said, are actually PRIVATE land. The impression was created that this was a done deal no matter what anybody says.

The buyer is the Hole-in-the-Rock Foundation, which already owns the Bluff Fort tourist attraction. The Foundation says they do not have plans to build permanent structures at Comb Ridge, however after acquiring the land plans may change at any time. At the very least, they will devote the land to a single use — ignoring the broad public interest and the cultural importance of this land to Native Americans.

Here’s the big picture: Gov. Herbert and the Tea-GOP majority in the Utah legislature are planning to sue the federal government to grab 30 million acres of our public lands and national forests. If the state ever gets this land, it will instantly become PRIVATE land as David Ure can tell you. That is what is at stake here.

Support the Bears Ears National Monument!

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Can Rep. Bishop Run Out the Clock on Bears Ears National Monument?

Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell toured the proposed Bears Ears National Monument last July

Yesterday Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz held a subcommittee hearing on their Public Lands Initiative (PLI) bill. There is virtually no chance of the bill becoming law, however Rep. Bishop is hopeful that by keeping the PLI in play for the few remaining weeks Congress will be in session he can block President Obama from issuing a Bears Ears National Monument proclamation.

Bishop says there’s plenty of time left.

“There is a helluva long lame-duck session,” he said in an interview. “We’re going to be here from after the election to Christmas.”

He said he doesn’t know if movement on the PLI will stop the president from acting on a monument but that the White House would be hard-pressed to explain why it made such a move against a locally driven process.

Bishop said: “It’s going to be very difficult to make this monument unless it’s simply, ‘Screw you, Utah, in your face.’ “

Bishop is ignoring the fact that the Bears Ears monument proposal has the support of a strong majority of Utahns.

More info:
Congress can still avoid a Bears Ears National Monument, says Rep. Jason Chaffetz
Beautiful Film Of The Proposed Bears Ears National Monument (July 2016)
Is President Obama Going to Do This? (June 2016)
Bishop-Chaffetz Bill Is An Attack On Our Public Lands (January 2016)
Bears Ears National Monument (November 2015)

3 Comments

Here’s Why You Can Fear Trump

Our public lands

If you are looking for a reason to fear a Donald Trump administration, then take a look at his economic plan (emphasis added).

WASHINGTON: At a private meeting of conservatives in Cleveland this summer, Donald Trump’s senior economic adviser, Stephen Moore, said the candidate planned to pay for his costly proposals by eliminating the departments of Commerce, Energy and Education; lifting all restrictions on mining, drilling and fracking; ending Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, and offering rust-belt factory workers new jobs on oil rigs and steel mills.

Of course, federal restrictions are not stopping the development of fossil fuels at all. The only check on the industry is the current slump in prices.

On the contrary, our public lands (that we own!) are wide open to corporate oil & gas exploration, coal mining, you name it. What is needed is a leasing ban for public lands – but Hillary Clinton refuses to propose such a ban, and she has long since abandoned an earlier promise to phase out coal.

If coal, oil and natural gas didn’t get subsidized, renewable energy would be recognized as being incomparably cheaper than fossil fuels. Why are the major-party presidential candidates not proposing to create jobs with nationwide programs for solar and wind energy? Remember candidate Obama’s 2008 promise of a “green economy” before he became the fracker-in-chief?

The only candidate with an economic program that will help us instead of the corporations is Jill Stein, who proposes “a human-centered economy that puts people, planet and peace over profit.”

UPDATE:
CNBC Debunks Industry-Backed Study Behind Trump’s Dirty Energy Plan

More info:
Behind Closed Doors, Donald Trump’s Adviser Explains His Real Economic Plan
Bernie Sanders Will Ban Fracking. Hillary Clinton ‘Sold Fracking to the World’

28 Comments

Beautiful Film Of The Proposed Bears Ears National Monument

Obviously filmed by somebody very passionate about this extraordinarily breathtaking landscape which must be protected.

Please sign the petition! And you might as well click on the YouTube logo button at bottom right, and “like” the video while you’re there.

Public hearing held in Salt Lake City on March 16th, showing strong opposition to planned degradation of Utah lands, including the Bears Ears area.

11 Comments

Is President Obama Going to Do This?

Bears Ears
Bears Ears buttes, Elk Ridge, San Juan County Utah

The Bears Ears National Monument proposal has been on the table since last year. There is some speculation that President Obama is readying a proclamation, despite a dire warning from Senator Orrin Hatch that it could result in an armed confrontation similar to the one at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

The monument proposal stands on its own considerable merits. Adequate protection of the area, particularly the archaeological sites of Cedar Mesa, is long overdue. A recent poll found 71 percent of Utahns support the Bears Ears monument. Additionally, Utah politicians could stand to benefit from a well-timed reminder that we the people own our public lands, not the corporations.

Rep. Chris Stewart recently tacked an amendment onto the Interior Appropriations Bill, seeking to prohibit new national monuments in Utah.

Meanwhile, the Utah Test and Training Range Act land grab has been quietly incorporated in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

The Utah land grab agenda also includes Rep. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz’ Public Lands Initiative (PLI), nicknamed the “Plundered Lands Initiative” by conservation groups. The representatives are still threatening to introduce this corporate-friendly development bill in Congress.

Gov. Gary Herbert is still proceeding with a threatened lawsuit aimed at seizing 30 million acres of our Utah public lands, a doomed gesture that may cost us $14 million.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Despite the controversial 1996 proclamation by the Clinton administration, the GSENM is thriving today. Let’s hope President Obama is willing to counter the anti-public-lands Utah politicians with a resoundingly popular monument proclamation this summer.

More info:
U-Turn Utah (Center for Western Priorities)
Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
Friends of Cedar Mesa
New York Times editorial: Monuments for Future Generations

10 Comments

NPS Centennial = Corporate Takeover?

Arches NP Milky Way
Milky Way viewed from Arches National Park

“The national park idea, the best idea we ever had, was inevitable as soon as Americans learned to confront the wild continent not with fear and cupidity but with delight, wonder, and awe.”

–Wallace Stegner

2016 is the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service (NPS). But because of chronic neglect and under-funding from Congress, the NPS is set to adopt a very bad idea for our national parks: Corporate sponsorships sold to the highest bidder that run the risk of plastering our most treasured sites of America’s natural heritage with corporate branding and logos. Park employees would be directly engaged in soliciting funds from corporations.

This policy change came as a consequence of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which compels the NPS to increase private funding through “donor recognition.”

The NPS annual budget of $3 billion isn’t enough to catch up on an estimated $11.49 billion in deferred maintenance costs in our national parks. As National Park Foundation president and CEO Will Shafroth told the Washington Post, “The parks don’t have enough money to accomplish their goals.” Private and corporate donations are needed to fill the gaps.

The new rules, that will take effect by the end of the year, would “swing open the gates of the 411 national parks, monuments and conservation areas to an unprecedented level of corporate donations.”

The comment period has already closed on the order from NPS Director Jarvis that would allow parks to start selling “naming rights,” which would allow the highest corporate bidder to place their name or logo – like a Nike Swoosh or a Starbucks logo – directly on select spaces and areas of our national parks like park buildings, benches, auditoriums, and visitor centers.

Tell Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to pull the plan to commercialize our national parks. And let’s tell our congressional delegation to fund the parks in the federal budget. Some Utah national parks are now charging a $30 entrance fee.

More info:
Yosemite, sponsored by Starbucks? National Parks to start selling some naming rights
Donor Naming Rights in U.S. National Parks – Is Brouhaha Justified?
No, the U.S. National Parks Will Not Be Sponsored by Viagra

NPS centennial patch

12 Comments

How To Talk To An Empty Chair

empty chairs

I’m actually naive enough to think that our senators would show up to hear the concerns of the citizens who showed up to a hearing in Salt Lake on March 2nd, 2016, concerning the new “Public Lands Initiative”, (PLI). I don’t know why I thought that, when the hearing wouldn’t have even taken place without being organized by “Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment”.

Jason Chaffetz gets a gold star for sending a notice he wouldn’t be present. Orrin Hatch, Rob Bishop and Mike Lee didn’t even have enough decency to reply to their invitation. Lack of respect from the senators, for the overwhelming majority of their constituents was a common theme throughout the night.

It was a good turnout, and it’s too bad it wasn’t held in a larger venue then Orson Spencer Hall. There wasn’t enough room for all the people who came to the event, even though some the attendees had to stand along the wall after the seats were gone. People at the back of the auditorium were complaining about all the noise being made by the folks in the foyer.

My camera batteries weren’t sufficient to record the entire meeting which lasted over three hours. Many dozens of people submitted a request to speak. I got some good footage though, which I present here for the people of Utah and hopefully others across the nation, since this terrible initiative could affect many other states, should it pass as written.

Enjoy the passion!

Salt Lake Tribune coverage.
Deseret Morning News coverage.

10 Comments

Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Send lawyers, guns and money
Bundy Gang terrorist holdout Sean Anderson screams death threats (YouTube video screen cap)

I’m hiding in Honduras – I’m a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns, and money
The shit has hit the fan

Warren Zevon

Today is Day 37 of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy Gang terrorists have created one martyr after the “suicide by cop” of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. Four armed holdouts are still camped at the refuge, anticipating a shoot-out with law enforcement. It’s uncertain how this will end.

In an well-written article, Raw Story’s Arun Gupta dissects the problems with the FBI’s response to this terrorist incident, not the least of which is the failure to bring terrorism charges. Gupta has been covering this story from Burns, Oregon.

The lax approach for weeks at Malheur made Burns a magnet for armed militiamen who spread fear in the town. The refuge became a platform for the Bundy militia to promote its radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and organize their armed rebellion.

The Bundy episode also exposed how the legal framework of the “war on terror” is used primarily on racial, religious and political grounds. Anti-terrorism laws should be repealed, but it’s notable that the Bundy militia’s actions match the definition of domestic terrorism precisely: “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State” and that “appear to be intended … to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”

The armed band has held the Malheur Refuge for more than a month now. The Bundys told reporters they would “kill or be killed if necessary.” They were setting up shadow governments in Eastern Oregon as a step toward overthrowing the U.S. government. Local and federal government employees were threatened. Most recently, Cliven Bundy sent the Harney County sheriff a notarized letter claiming “possession” of the refuge.

But there is no indication arrestees will be charged with domestic terrorism or that the scores of people who came by the refuge offering supplies or aid will be charged with providing material support for terrorism.

..The Bundys are also being spared the throw-the-book-at-them response prosecutors use in post-9/11 terror cases. The contrast is telling because whereas the Bundys plotted actively and openly to use violence to further political ends, the majority of terror cases are cooked up by the FBI. They trap “mentally ill or … economically desperate” Muslim-Americans who wind up with decades-long sentences. Sometimes the charges are astonishingly minor, such as a U.S.-born college student who accepted a 15-year sentence, rather than the 70 years sought by prosecutors, by saying he knew a houseguest was carrying sleeping bags and waterproof socks to an al Qaeda contact in Afghanistan. This severity also extended to Occupy Wall Street. In Cleveland and Chicago, white male anarchists received lengthy sentences after they were goaded, bribed and guided by undercover police and FBI informants to participate in fake terror plots.

The list of convicted terrorists in U.S. prisons consists mostly of Muslims, leftists, and environmentalists. There are very few right-wingers – notably Terry Nichols and Eric Rudolph.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that in addition to guns the Bundys are working the lawyers and money angles. The Eugene-based Arnold Law Firm now represents the terrorists, and has set up a website to collect donations for legal bills.

Over the course of the terrorist takeover, The Oregonian has done some really excellent journalism. They told the story of the Burns Paiute Tribe, who were forcibly evicted from their 1.5 million acre reservation by the U.S. Army in 1879. Unlike the Bundys, the tribe can make a good case for having suffered from government oppression.

The tribe later recovered a fraction of its former reservation, 760 acres on the outskirts of town, after agreeing to pay the federal government for the land.

The Oregonian also put the recent events in context by comparing the Bundy Gang takeover to 1970s Marxist terrorists in Oregon and a 1979 takeover of the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia by dispossessed black residents.

More info:
Government inaction gave Bundy militants a platform to spread their anti-government delusions
Ethical Questions Surround Ammon Bundy’s Legal Team, Strategy
Burns Paiutes to Ammon Bundy: You’re not the victim
Oregon standoff: Feds forcibly removed black occupiers from wildlife refuge in 1979

73 Comments

Land Grabbers Use Deceptive Video to Spread Anti-Government Hate

Rep. Ken Ivory’s American Lands Council is using a misleading video on Facebook to claim that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) deliberately started a 2012 wildfire in Oregon in order to kill cattle grazing on public land. In reality, the 161,000-acre Miller Homestead Fire was lightning-caused.

As is typical for grass fires, the fire front was fast-moving and could only be controlled using back burning techniques to create firebreaks (known as “black line” in firefighting parlance). It’s usually too slow and too dangerous to fight a grass fire directly using hand crews and bulldozers.

To add insult to injury, this bogus BLM smear video was paid for by taxpayers.

Ivory, R-West Jordan, was a co-founder and CEO of the American Lands Council, to which 47 counties in Western states spent a combined $219,000 of taxpayer money in 2014 to be members, according to the Center for Western Priorities.

The same lies were put on the Web last December by Ammon Bundy, claiming “BLM Destroying Ranches by Fire: Feds Burning Cows ALIVE, Torching Homes, Imprisoning Ranchers!” The baseless allegations against the BLM were intended to highlight alleged hypocrisy in the prosecution of two ranchers for earlier incidents of arson on public lands. A few weeks later Bundy led an armed terrorist takeover of the Malheur National Wildife Refuge on January 2.

From the official press release on the Miller Homestead Fire:

Two structures are reported lost in the incident: one, a long-abandoned, roofless mobile home, and the other a single structure within the M.S. Davies homestead (other infrastructure in this area was unharmed). It is also reported some livestock have been lost, though accurate counts have not been confirmed. All residences affected by the Miller Homestead fire have been successfully protected…

Firefighters successfully protected all residences and the hamlet of Frenchglen, but this doesn’t stop the anti-government fanatics from accusing the BLM of “torching homes”!

From the final report on the same fire:

Local Coordination – Local landowners and permittees were engaged from the initial attack on. A member of the Incident Management Type 3 Team stated, “Local folks worked well with BLM staff during those first few days. There was lots of coordination. BLM crews helped cut fences, open gates and secure cattle.” A landowner and permittee stated, “They worked with me on letting me build direct line that saved important feed from being part of a backfire. They got ideas from me for tying in black line, and it worked.”

Another said that initial attack priorities were set and communicated early with all involved.

Others noted that the Burns District tries to hire local young people for the crews when possible. This helps with knowing people and the land. One stated there is a strong sense that this is their home, and they want to protect it.

…Cattle represent a significant investment and their livelihood to their owners, and great lengths appear to have been taken to get them to safety in conjunction with fire activities.

An example of this occurred at Lone Tree Lake, a small dry reservoir. Six ranchers and a BLM law enforcement officer stayed with about 200 head of cattle while the fire burned around them. Just prior to the fire front reaching them, they burned out around the small dry reservoir to provide a black line for additional safety for the cattle and themselves. Fire managers were aware of this situation, and a helitack crew gave advice on where and when to ignite backfires.

Bear in mind that safety is always of paramount concern in wildland firefighting. Yet BLM personnel took personal risks in order to preserve property for ranchers during this fire.

More info:
Rolly: Video’s claim that BLM sparked devastating Oregon fires goes up in smoke
Inciweb: Miller Homestead Fire (2012)
Final Review Report for the Long Draw and Miller Homestead Fires (PDF)

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