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BLM document reveals big change in federal land management

By Sarah Dallof  |  Posted Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:00pm



 

SALT LAKE CITY -- KSL 5 News has obtained a document that outlines a huge change in how the federal government wants to manage federal land in Utah, and one Utah congressman says it makes him furious.

Congressman Rob Bishop's office also recently received the document. Bishop said he's angry because it would put virtually all land management power in the hands of the White House.


Of the 264 million acres under BLM management, some 130- to 140-million acres are worthy of consideration as treasured lands. These areas [are] roughly equivalent in size to Colorado and Wyoming combined.

–BLM's Treasured Lanscapes paper


A portion of the document was leaked back in February and led to speculation about a federal land grab in Utah. It talked about the creation of a 12 new national monuments

Now, an outside source provided KSL with the entire document, and it does suggest a dramatically new philosophy for managing federal land.

The Bureau of Land Management's document is stamped with "Internal Draft. Not for release." Titled "Treasured Landscapes," it lays out what some consider a sweeping and detailed plan for the next 25 years.

It took Bishop months to get the document, which lays out the context for the snippets released a few months ago.

"They have clearly been dragging their feet, and they don't want to let us know what they're trying to do," Bishop says.

He is especially concerned about portions of the document that recommend using the Antiquities Act "should the legislative process not prove fruitful." The act gives the president power to designate a national monument with no public or legislative input.

The U.S. Department of the Interior released a statement Thursday that reads, in part: "The preliminary internal discussion draft reflects some brainstorming discussions within BLM, but no decisions have been made about which areas, if any, might merit more serious review and consideration." [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement]

"Their brainstorming session was how to do this without engaging Congress, without having to go to Congress for approval," Bishop said.

There are those who support what is a radical new departure in land management -- the idea of protecting whole ecosystems instead of just individual parcels.

Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, says the vision within the pages is urgently needed.

"I'd like to see some real planning developed out of it," Robinson said. "It obviously is a brainstorming kind of thing thing, but you have to do that before you take intelligent action."

E-mail: sdallfo@ksl.com

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