by Bonnie Kohleriter
Our public lands are now under attack which has enormous consequences for our wild horses and burros and for our wildlife. The attacks are coming from Trump’s cabinet members, particularly the Dept. of Agriculture and the Dept. of the Interior, and from Congressional Republicans.
First, Rep. Jason Chaffetz R UT, introduced a bill early in January, 2017, to sell off 3.3 M acres of Federal land to states. With an outcry from conservatives and sports groups, he withdrew that bill.
Then Rep. Jason Chaffetz R UT, introduced a bill later in January, 2017, called the Local Lands Act, wherein Federal law enforcement on our Federal Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, will be supplanted with State law enforcement with the States being given block grants. The bill is currently in the Natural Resources Committee: Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry.
Then Rep. Don Young (R) AK, moved a bill, House Joint Resolution 69, through the Congress in February, 2017, wherein the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Federal Alaskan lands will no longer manage its Federal wildlife, and its Federal wildlife will be managed by the State of Alaska. Resolution 69 went to the Senate, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) AK and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) AK, moved the resolution through the Senate in March, 2017.
It is concerning as attempts are in process to take away Federal land and give it to the States, to take away Federal law enforcement on Federal lands and give it to the States, and to take away Federal management of Federal wildlife on Federal land and give the management to the States. What’s next? In addition to give aways, the Senate voted 51-48 to kill the 2.0 plan which was developed by the Dept. of the Interior. That plan authorized public lands stakeholders to give input into the use of the land. The killing of the 2.0 plan is designed to give the local and state governments more control over the Federal public lands for development such as use for businesses.
Now Ken Ivory, a Rep. in the Utah State Legislature, under House Concurrent Resolution 22, is asking the President and Congress to repeal the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and grant authority and resources to the States to manage feral horse and burro populations within their jurisdictions. The Legislature and Governor maintain the horses and burros are damaging the rangelands for wildlife and livestock that share the same areas. This bill would authorize the States to geld the stallions. Some outspoken ranchers and hunters want our public land for their gains. The ranchers in Utah have expressed they want to “harvest” (slaughter) the horses and burros like they harvest cattle.
What else is coming? Environmental groups have identified “Public Lands Enemies. Interestingly they are all Republicans. They are:
Sen. Mike Lee Utah Sen. Lisa Murkowski Al Rep Mark Amodei NV
Sen. Orin Hatch Utah Sen. Dan Sullivan AL Rep Dean Heller NV
Rep. Rob Bishop Utah Rep. Don Young AL Rep Tom McClintock CA
Rep. Jason Chaffetz Utah Sen. Jeff Flake AZ Rep Doug La Malfa CA
Rep. Chris Stewart Utah Rep. Paul Gosar AZ Rep Steve Pearce NM
Rep. Mia Love Utah Sen. Barrasso WY Rep Raul Labrador ID
In California, McClintock is from the Central Valley and La Malfa is from NE California. La Malfa is a 4th generation rice farmer and has received $ 5M in federal commodity subsidies starting in 1995, or on average a quarter of a million dollars every year from the federal government. Now that’s the real “welfare” food stamps subsidy.
While Republican Congressional Representatives primarily supported by ranchers and hunters in their respective states, wrangle in Congress to take from the Federal government and give to the States, the Wildlife Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture yearly brutally kills millions of carnivores and omnivores on our public lands to appease the hunters and ranchers. The hunters claim the carnivores and omnivores kill the herbivores they want to hunt and the ranchers on our public lands claim the carnivores and omnivores kill their livestock. The killings are brutal: aerial gunning, cyanide poisoning, steel jaw and leg trapping… In 2016 the Ag Dept. Wildlife Services killed 2.7 M animals on our public lands. 415 gray wolves, 77,000 coyotes, 407 black bears, 334 mountain lions, 997 bobcats, 21,000 beavers, 4000 foxes, …
Our public lands are to have a multiple use mandate, but it seems the powerful, monied hunting and ranching lobbies, as well as now, the gas, oil and mining lobbies in Washington are dictating what will go on with our public lands through their elected congressional representatives. Get involved. Contact your elected congressional representatives, especially those on the natural resources, agricultural, and appropriations committees in the House and the agricultural, nutrition, forestry, and environmental and public works and appropriations committees in the Senate. Tell your representatives what it is you want on our public lands.