Open letter on federal land management
July 20, 2016
BELGRADE, Mont. – In an open letter sent to U.S. Presidential candidates, a consortium of technical groups specializing in Western-focused natural resource technical services and public lands litigation experts, presented their recommendations for improving the management of federal lands in the West.
The letter presents a detailed outline of specific position statements that would aid in "mitigating the rhetoric and in advancing viable solutions associated with the working landscapes in the West". The recommendations suggest a streamlined approach to federal land management, concluding with a goal of consolidating the administration of public lands and national forest system lands into one federal land management agency.
The letter appeals to the modernization of current policies and practices; including a more precise species definition under the Endangered Species Act and repealing the ability of the President to establish National Monuments without the approval of Congress.
As stated by the signatories, the top ten priorities in improving federal land management are as follows:
Retain federal ownership of most federal lands, but with significant changes.
Enhance the National Park System by converting some of the existing National Monuments to Park status with approval of the applicable State.
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Adopt and implement State sage grouse management plans, and withdraw BLM and USFS land use and forest planning as related to sage grouse.
Manage wild horses and burros to achieve "appropriate management levels" (AML) within 4 years with priority timing on sage grouse breeding, late-brood rearing, and winter habitat areas.
Repeal (or amend) the Antiquities Act of 1906, to negate the ability of the President to unilaterally establish National Monuments without the approval of Congress.
Release Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) within 4 years unless Congress approves to establish the same (in whole or in part) to Wilderness status.
Retain, but amend, the Equal Access to Justice Act, and similar fee-shifting statutes.
Amend the Endangered Species Act to more precisely defining the terms "species", "endangered species", and "threatened species."
Amend the Administrative Procedure Act to provide litigants a meaningful opportunity for participation and for judicial review.
Consolidate administration of the public lands and national forest system lands into one federal land management agency.
The undersigned groups, Schroeder & Lezamiz Law Offices, LLP, Therese A. Ure of Schroeder Law Offices, P.C., Western Range Service, and Synergy Resource Solutions, Inc., ask the U.S. Presidential candidates to consider each recommendation, stressing that each candidates' stance on these issues will be "key to securing the vote in any of the Western States."
Read the full letter here.