Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Your Daily Dose of [(Misinformation)(Paranoia)(Both)]

I happened to stumble across this web site:

“Your Daily Dose of Conservatism.”

I read the top-most article.

Here, we have the story of how the Bureau of Land Management has mutated into a rogue agency and an Agent of the Regime and how it has a license to steal.  "[T]he BLM has become a personal extension of our imperial leadership."

[/Aside:  I thought that going rogue was something admirable.  At least that is what Sarah Palin told me…. / End Aside]  

“BLM calls itself a management agency but they also have the ability, through FLTFA., to purchase land and a policy of forcing a sale to them at condemned land prices. They have a variety of weapons to use against the American public, including conservation, endangered species and permit refusal. BLM can and does turn valuable land into worthless wilderness through their bureaucratic extortion.”

According to the author, allowing “valuable” land to return to its natural state makes it a worthless wilderness.  That’s a pretty narrow definition of value.

Moreover, from what I understand, a lot of Western agriculture would not have been possible in the first place without large-scale, federally underwritten water projects.  And even with that vast infrastructure, what has been standard procedure for many decades may not be sustainable given the growth in population and the demands for water for non-agricultural uses.

More on this paragraph in a minute, but first…

“Rep Rob Bishop of Utah recently obtained a copy of the BLM secret planning document which exposes BLM as a rogue agency, with a hidden agenda.”

OK, I’ve read the portion of the document presented at the linked page.  It’s the beginning of a 20-page document about how the BLM intends to manage its lands.  But before we get to the beginning of the actual BLM secret document, we are greeted with a scary picture of a pack of wild horses being chased by a helicopter.  (I have reproduced the image at the top of this diary.]

No information is provided as to who is in the helicopter.  It seems to me that it may be just as likely, if not more likely, that the guys in the helicopter are poachers rounding up wild horses for a slaughterhouse than Fish and Wildlife Service personnel trying to move the horses from point A to point B for sound wildife-management reasons.

But suppose there are in fact BLM personnel in that helicopter.  Are there sound reasons for using helicopters for this purpose?  What alternatives are there to using helicopters?  A bunch of cowboys on horseback?  How many cowboys would the job require?  Would it cost more to field that group of X cowboys on horseback than to use a single helicopter?  Would there be greater risk of injury to the wild horses from roping them and forcing them to migrate?

(At least one of you Moose is an equestrienne.  I suspect that you may have answers to my questions.)

It would be interesting to know how this picture came to be taken.  Did someone just happen to be out in the wilderness when the BLM helicopter swooped in on a pack of wild horses?  Do we really know that the horses are wild?  Is it possible that the entire scene was staged for the purpose of getting a photograph?

[ /Aside: I seem to recall that the Queen of Conservatism has defended (and facilitated) the use of aircraft for one particular form of “wildlife management.”


The latter reported:

Helicopters have the benefit of being able to hover very close to the ground, but they’re prohibitively expensive for private pilots. (A small helicopter might cost as much as four times more than a Super Cub.) This past spring, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game lent its helicopters and employees to the predator-control effort.

/End Aside]

If one takes the trouble to read the beginning of the “secret” document, it doesn’t sound sinister at all… not to me, anyway.

Rather, from what I get out of the document, BLM is attempting to manage its lands in a systemic fashion rather than taking a piecemeal approach.

To the extent that lands form natural ecosystems, the BLM is attempting to manage the lands in a holistic, science-based  fashion so that the ecosystems function as Nature (and Nature’s God?) intend them to function, and so that rare, valuable and threatened species can survive.

Ecosystems need to be large enough that there is adequate space, water, forage, etc. for the species that inhabit the ecosystem.  Wildlife preserves also need to be contiguous.  They do not function well if, e.g., winter and summer habitats are separated by developed areas, open-pit mines, highways, etc.

To, also, although the article describes the document as “secret” and the “agenda” as “hidden,”  apparently, the only evidence of these allegations is that the document is marked, “Internal Draft – NOT FOR RELEASE.”  [Emphasis in original.]

Many organizations, both inside and outside of government, do not release drafts of policy statements and the like.  Rather, it is final versions that have gone through the necessary levels of review and that have received the necessary approvals that get released.

E.g., one of the exemptions from disclosure in the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552(A)(5) is, “inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency.”

As the federal government’s FOIA web site, puts it:

Not all records can be released under the FOIA.  Congress established certain categories of information that are not required to be released in response to a FOIA request because release would be harmful to governmental or private interests.   These categories are called “exemptions” from disclosures.  Still, even if an exemption applies, agencies may use their discretion to release information when there is no foreseeable harm in doing so and disclosure is not otherwise prohibited by law.  There are nine categories of exempt information and each is described below.  


Exemption 5: Information that concerns communications within or between agencies which are protected by legal privileges, that include but are not limited to:


3. Deliberative Process Privilege


The article does not say whether a final version was released.

Nevertheless, it is clear from this statement that, rather than some secret power-grab, the BLM would seek authority through statutory and rule-making processes to implement its plans.

Section I of the draft document states that, [t]o achieve our Treasured Land objectives, the BLM will need to enlist the aid of the administration and the Congress to ensure that we possess both the legal tools and financial means to make our vision of integrated landscape-level management a reality.”

During such processes, the public at large and interested parties in particular would have opportunities to make their views known: through testimony at Congressional-Committee hearings, and through comments and other pleadings filed during any legally necessary rule-making.

The lead article, states that, “BLM calls itself a management agency but they also have the ability, through FLTFA,  to purchase land and a policy of forcing a sale to them at condemned land prices. However, if we look at the linked page, we see that:

Under the provisions of FLTFA, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service (the Agencies) could only purchase inholdings that are located within a federally designated area, or that are adjacent to a federally designated area and contain exceptional resources.

With the definitions…

Inholding: Any right, title, or interest held by a non-federal entity, in or to a tract of land that lies within the boundary of a federally designated area.

Federally designated area:  An area, in existence on July 25, 2000, set aside for special management, including national parks, a national wildlife refuges, national forests, national monuments, national conservation areas, areas of critical environmental concern, national outstanding natural areas, national natural landmarks, research natural areas, wilderness or wilderness study areas, and units of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System or National Trails System.

Exceptional resource: A resource of scientific, natural, historic, cultural or recreational value that has been documented by a federal, state, or local government authority, and for which there is a compelling need for conservation and protection under the jurisdiction of a federal agency in order to maintain the resource for the benefit of the public.

And if we read a little further…


Finally, with regard to a sale at “forcing a sale at condemned land prices,” the linked FTLA page states, immediately above the above-quoted text:

Lands meeting the above criteria could be nominated for sale to the Agencies by any individual, group or governmental body.  If submitted by a party other than the landowner, the nomination must also have been signed by the landowner(s) to confirm their willingness to sell.  The specific procedures for submitting nominations are outlined in the Federal Register Notice that was published on March 7, 2006.  The nomination and identification of an inholding does not obligate the landowner to convey the property nor does it obligate the United States to purchase the property.  All purchases must be at fair market value consistent with applicable provisions of the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions. [Emphasis added.]

(I also note that the author classifies conservation as a weapon.  And here I thought that Dick Cheney once said that conservation was a personal virtue.)

In sum, it seems to me that this Daily Dose is a dollop of paranoia, combined with either willful ignorance or deliberate distortion.

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