Sunday, May 05, 2013

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
A Note tied to a Ribbon
First Amendment Rights
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Red Steagall sang it … we live it.
“On a fence line north of Esteline, the strangest sight I’d ever seen.
                    Was a note tied with a ribbon to a rolling tumbleweed.”
 The note was written in a fair woman’s hand. She had lost her love. In silent grief, she had cast her heart and her hopes to the wind. Tied to a tumbleweed, she sent the note away, trusting in God’s blessings.
In Red’s song, she became a cowboy’s personal image of hope … his own Red River Rose. He realized what the message meant later as he looked into the flames of his campfire.
Congressional authority?
The destruction of the Culture and Customs of the West is visible in every direction. Name any historical industry and it is under assault.
The battles are being shaped by the agencies reporting to cabinet secretaries. They are being supported by the Senate, no longer protectors of state rights and direct cooperators with nongovernmental organizations, and the House of Representatives, which holds the purse strings, but has obliged the free fall into debt Armageddon.
Federal stewardship of the West has long been irreverent and blasphemous. It has been that way for 107 years.
 And, yet the West has continuously cast its heart and hopes to notes tied to symbolic tumbleweeds. “Help us!” the message reads.
The Endangered Species Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, the Equal Access to Justice Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and thousands of pages of policy, regulations, and rules have become the legal authority to stifle, alter, admonish, and denigrate the citizenry it was, collectively, represented to uphold.
The laws are being applied antithetically to how they were promoted. The best example is the Equal Access to Justice Act. That Act was intended to protect Americans who could ill afford to defend against actions by the federal agencies and the environmental front. Records show the opposite has taken place
The groups manipulating the laws have also filled the roll of local government in matters of land use planning. The latest example is DOI’s Secretarial Order No. 3289.
In this order, the secretary established landscape conservation cooperatives. These cooperatives are represented to focus on local strategic conservation efforts at the ‘landscape level’ through private partnerships.
The partners, though, have nothing to do with local government unless that government is staged to support the outcome of their proposals. The order spells out the process. The cooperatives will deliver “applied science to inform resource managers of decisions that address climate change and other regional scale stressors”.
The indoctrination and instructional trail to federal managers will continue while the “partners develop adaptation strategies”. In other words, the partners, whoever they are, will develop the science to be instituted and policed by the agencies. There is no grassroots land planning in this debacle. This is an end run legislative proxy. It is being engineered by the environmental brokers.
While states like Colorado Texas, Wyoming, and Utah have been present in recent day House Natural Resource Committee hearings on the matter, the Southwest must look at this order with a similar but expanded concern. The order is aimed at five western states, and … ten Mexican states!
Isn’t a point of order appropriate? Where is the Congressional authority to enter into international conservation projects directed by agenda driven partnerships?
The reality is there is no local planning from the West. The planning comes through these partnerships and it tracks through Washington. The stewardship of western lands has also become nihilistic and anarchist.
Luke Shipp
Luke Shipp is a pragmatic fellow from Texas. This week a number of us received an email from him. While most of the contents will remain private, the message was significant. It must be shared, and it harkens back to the most basic and sacred of promises.
Luke reminded us of how rural communities have endured fraud, waste, and abuse from the governmental institutions charged with administering federal land matters. Individual families have been devastated and forced out of business. Heritage industry employees have lost jobs and have faced cultural displacement. Regions have lost income, citizens, commerce, and tax base. Children, particularly in the wolf release areas, have suffered trauma.
Moreover, forests burn on a scale that took place only one other time in American history. Increasingly, Westerners are governed not by laws, but by policy and regulations. Local governance isn’t planning or crafting solutions for communities. Rather, local governance is defending itself against the latest project being driven by conservation cooperative efforts.
Indeed, fraud, waste, and abuse are rampant, but there is also something more fundamental corrupting the landscape. As Christians, scripture is the written spiritual guidance to which we must adhere. The Bible states man is to have dominion over the creatures and creation.
As the propaganda invades our lives regarding the importance of saving the environment, those of us who rely on the land abhor the promises of more restrictive land protections. For example, where, in the 193 million acres of Forest Service administered lands, have such wonders reappeared?
The truth is the wonders exist only where biblical dominion actually exists. That is where the game herds flourish. That is where wildlife and livestock exist in lock step. That is where oil extraction is being teamed with increasing productivity with livestock and wildlife. That is where relics of the past are protected. That is where productivity of the land remains a function of long range planning and protected stewardship.
It doesn’t exist on federal lands. There isn’t a mystical federal Camelot solution that will recreate the conditions being represented, nor will adding endlessly to the artificial designations change those circumstances. The magic appears, as Aldo Leopold perceptibly observed, where “the steward is too poor to pay for his sport”.
Luke’s point is clear. The First Amendment right of Westerners is being debased and mimicked with derision.
His inspiration is revealed in abundance. There is no western stewardship dominion over creation. In fact, the opposite is engineered. A wolf in the Blue Range Recovery Area has more rights than Americans in the release area. If you don’t believe that, ask one of the 42 ranchers who were recently informed of yet another wolf pair release in their midst. Each of them said, “No!”
The absentee conservation cooperative hierarchy ignored the responses. The pair was released.
The warning of wise men
The Constitution was not founded on unnatural law. On the contrary, the genius of the document is the culmination of over two millennium of experience and failures of unnatural law.
Array the names who served as references or primary authors of the document. Their list is impressive.
The Gospel authors, John Adams, William Blackstone, Frederic Bastiat, Cicero, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Hooker, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, James Madison, Alexis De Tocqueville and George Washington were all staunchly adherent to the tenets of natural law, including those certain unalienable rights of the American model. Every one of those men was tough minded who, by their ascension to historical prominence, had to reject most of the popular intellectual fads of their day.
No man was more widely respected than Locke among the Founders. Locke rejected the proposition that the unchecked and random forces of nature could ever produce a pencil much less a natural wonder. It was the Creator that was the wonder, not the creation.
Perhaps that single realization lends more credence to Shipp’s simple reminder than anything else. Our biblical teachings clearly state that we, as believing Christians, have been granted dominion over the creatures and the creation. We were granted that by the Creator, our God. No government, no law, no policy, no regulation, nor any conservation cooperative has the authority to separate the law of revelation from the law of nature.
No authority was more respected on that subject than William Blackstone. He believed the two sets of laws were inseparable. He stated,”… upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws.”
In his attempt to preserve French freedom, Frederic Bastiat added, “The Creator has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting (life) … he has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our facilities to these natural resources we convert them into products and use them … Life, faculties, production, in other words individuality, liberty, property … And, in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.”
We agree. Our symbolic, ribboned note hasn’t worked, but our position is correct. Thank you, Luke … you reminded us of our greatest strength.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “All but one of those men was a Christian. We have only thought we were out numbered.”


Everyone should read The Law by Frederick Bastiat.  It's available, for free, in three different formats, by going here.  Since reading this book years ago, I've never looked at government the same.

To learn more about Bastiat, try Frederic Bastiat: A Man Alone, also available for free by going here.

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