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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  Southwest  |  Topic: BLM thumbing its nose at Congress - MOAB « previous next »
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Todd Ockert
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« on: November 14, 2007, 02:15:34 pm »

Thumbing its nose at Congress is nothing new for BLM Proposed fee system at White Wash Sand Dunes violates new federal fee law

The public comment period will close soon on a draft management plan and Travel Plan for the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Moab Field Office. The draft plan is instructive regarding how agenda-driven bureaucrats thumb their nose at Congress's instructions on how federal lands should be managed.

But thumbing their noses at Congress is nothing new for the BLM. Many UFWDA members remember the "bad old days" of Bruce Babbitt, Department of Interior Secretary under the Clinton/Gore administration. Despite clear instruction in law, Babbitt told Congress to "stuff it" regarding Wilderness inventory and road rights. Babbitt's ill-fated attempt to re-write road policy even drew a stinging rebuke from Congress, who specifically bared him from re-writing BLM's R.S. 2477 policy.

The new crop of BLM Resource Management Plans (RMPs) show the tradition of thumbing its nose at Congress is firmly established, even at the local Field Office level. Moab's draft plan gives us several object lessons:

In the Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), Congress told federal land managers that if they are going to charge fees for recreation, then they have to involve the public and ensure the majority of the funds go back where they are paid. It sounds simple and it is. The BLM has even developed a simple procedure utilizing the existing Resource Advisory Councils to consider fee proposals.

But the Moab Field Office gets around all that pesky public involvement with some darned impressive bureaucratic gymnastics. In the White Wash Sand Dunes area, a popular OHV destination for over 30 years, Moab BLM says it will: "Implement a fee system, using individual Special Recreation Permits, to help fund cost of intensive management of the White Wash Sand Dunes area." (emphasis added)

Now, including this much detail in a RMP, which is supposed to be general guidance, is unusual enough, but to specifically mandate that fees will be part of the Special Recreation Permit (SRP) process, is extraordinary. You see, the BLM has a whole chapter in their regulations on SRPs. They've got manuals, handbooks and instruction memos. Not one of them includes anything about involving the public in the establishment of fees. By mandating in the Land Use Plan that any fees at the Dunes be "individual SRPs", the Moab BLM deliberately bypassed a mandate from Congress to involve the public when charging fees for recreation.

Congress also told BLM that "Land use plans of the Secretary shall be consistent with State and local plans to the maximum extent he finds consistent with Federal law..." Local plans include the transportation network of the county road system and BLM has a process to validate road rights-of-ways. Incredibly, Moab BLM says road rights-of-ways are "out of scope" for this plan. 

Of all the instruction Congress gave to BLM, it was perhaps the most clear regarding Wilderness. Congress wanted BLM lands inventoried for Wilderness character, set a deadline for completion and even followed through with funding to get it done. What it said it did not want was a never ending, ongoing inventory and review for "lands with wilderness character." Yet, that is exactly what we have in BLM's new management plans. "Oh," the BLM bureaucrats say, "these aren't Wilderness Study Areas, these are 'lands with wilderness character,' so we are really being consistent with Congress." Of course, this is just more bureaucratic gymnastics, as the management of the two is the same.

The R.S. 2477 Roads and the Wilderness character issues are tied up in court right now and besides protecting our rights to intervene in the legal cases, there is not much the public can do to budge the BLM on these issues. 

But the recreational fee issue is another animal altogether. We have a chance now to tell BLM that ignoring Congress's mandate to involve the public on recreational fees will not be tolerated.

Please send an email to the Moab Field Office today and tell them:
- You do not support an individual SRP program at White Wash.
- You will not tolerate BLM imposing any fees without full public involvement mandated by the  Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).
- Tell them all other funding sources, including RTP, OHV and other grant programs should be exhausted before any fee program is established.

Send your comments to:
UT_Moab_Comments@blm.gov.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
Be sure to include your name and address. Anonymous comments are often discarded!

LEARN MORE ON THE WEB:

BLM information and documents:
The Moab DRMP/DEIS and supporting information is available on the project web site at: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/planning.html
« Last Edit: November 14, 2007, 03:03:21 pm by Todd Ockert » Logged

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Steve Edmunds
Utah Four Wheel Drive Association
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2007, 07:38:02 am »

Here is how the Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association is getting those comment letters written.....
This is posted on each member club forum -


The Moab RMP comment deadline is approaching quickly! We need every motorized user, every wife, child, freind, etc that enjoys public lands, to comment on the upcoming plan. SUWA will have their "interests" represented, we need to cover our butts! I know its kindve last minute, but the idea just came up and we are running with it. If it proves to be sucsessful we will be doing it for all the other RMP's that are currently in the works too (Price aka SR Swell, Kanab, etc.).

Here is how it works:

We are going to host a "Comment Letter Party", ~6pm-9pm, Larry H Miller Jeep in Sandy. The U4WDA will have educated representatives there to help guide you in writing meaningful comments. We will then collect all the letters and send them in for you! Bring your freinds, bring your family, tell anyone that hasn't submitted a letter yet.

If you can't make it, send a freind... we will have info packets for you to take, add a stamp and it will be ready to mail (after you comment of course ). Start thinking of your comments now!

Again, there will be far more details in the actual thread, I'll post a link here when all the details are hammered out.

WE NEED EVERYONES HELP!!!
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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2007, 10:44:35 am »

These letter wrtting parties work very good.
A big group also did this for letters to the Eldorado National Forest here in California.

Thanks for thinking out of the box, and getting this done.

Todd
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2007, 11:54:14 am »

There is also a letter a Moab letter writing group / party that was held in Grand Junction CO this past Thursday.

It would be great if we could get this kind of attention on all of the places this type of thing is happening.

- Shawn
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