Sunday, August 07, 2016

DuBois column


The tale of two ruses: Mexican wolves and national monuments

Wolf lies, Catron County vindicated

The Catron County Commission filed a complaint against the USFWS in 2013, which lay dormant until Steve Pearce regained the congressional seat.  Pearce forwarded the complaint to the Dept. of Interior’s Office of Inspector General, which filed a report on July 11 of this year.

According to the OIG report, Catron County “made numerous allegations against MGWRP, particularly involving a former coordinator of the Interagency Field Team (IFT) charged with implementing the program. The county alleged that the former IFT coordinator and MGWRP had failed to properly document nuisance complaints about wolves, had not communicated effectively with county residents to address public safety concerns involving the wolves, had mismanaged livestock depredation investigations and compensation, and had destroyed a wolf DNA sample.”

And their findings? OIG report says, “Our investigation substantiated many of the allegations against the former IFT coordinator.” 

In a section of the report titled Failing To Document Nuisance Complaints, the report found this to be true.  The former IFT coordinator admitted that even those this data was used to make program decisions it “occasionally” went unrecorded, and she blamed that on the staff being “busy”, or the information just “slipped through the cracks”, or because of “workload demands” and “human error”.

And in a section of the report tiled Falsely Attributing Nuisance Complaints to Wolves of Lesser Genetic Value, the former IFT coordinator denied “consciously” manipulating data in favor of genetically valuable wolves.  So what did she do “unconsciously”?  According to the report, “… later in the interview she acknowledged that she did treat them ‘differently’from other wolves.  She said that she gave genetically valuable wolves more care, allowed their nuisance behavior to continue, and provided them more opportunities to breed.”

In an editorial the Albuquerque Journal said “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was mishandling a program to return the Mexican grey wolf to the area and then lying about it.”  Congressman Pearce agrees, stating “The upper level management of the Fish and Wildlife Service is tolerating a culture of lies, deception and outright manipulation of data. I think a whole overhaul is needed.”

There is nothing on their website, but the media is reporting the USFWS is acknowledging problems with senior leadership in the past but says those have been “effectively addressed.”

I say it has been mismanaged.  The USFWS employee ran the program from January of 2011 until August of 2013, or for more than two and a half years.  Now either leadership in the USFWS was unaware of these transgressions, which is mismanagement, or they were aware and failed to address it in a timely fashion, which is mismanagement.  And the action they took, just transferring an employee who falsified government documents, is mismanagement.  The Albuquerque Journal says, “Clearly lying and manipulating scientific data aren’t firing offenses at the agency.”

So much for this administration basing all decisions on science.  In fact, this is the second administration in a row which has manipulated data under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act, which just shows what a political football it has become.

Congressman Pearce has successfully amended the Interior Appropriations bill to deny any funding to the Mexican Wolf Program.  That would create at least one year of rest and reflection on the program, but the media is quoting Senator Heinrich as saying he will be working with Senator Udall (who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee) to ensure the amendment is removed from the final bill.

Will these wolves huff and puff and blow the USFWS/ESA house down?  Not as long as Three Blind Mice are running it.

The monument ruse

An entire week’s news cycle has been take up with Interior Secretary Jewell and her trip to Utah, what she did while there and speculation about what this all means. 

A group of enviros, five native american tribes and others have requested the President designate a 1.9 million-acre swath of land in the corner of Utah as the Bears Ears National Monument.  The proposal also calls for some co-management areas to be run by the tribes. During the same week of Jewell’s visit, Congressman Rob Bishop and the rest of the Utah delegation completed three years of work and introduced the Public Lands Initiative to protect 1.4 million acres in the same area by designating them as National Conservation Areas or Special Management Areas.

During her tour of the area, Secretary Jewell said she was “shocked at the lack of protection for many of these assets", but the Governor, the entire Utah delegation and many local entities oppose the monument, and instead support the Public Lands Initiative.

After reviewing all this and the public hearings held by Secretary Jewell, I have the following takeaways:

° One mayor is quoted as saying a new President could "rescind" the monument designation.  That is incorrect.   A 1938 AG's Opinion says that while the Antiquities Act grants the President the authority to "proclaim" a national monument, nothing within the Act grants the authority to revoke or eliminate a monument.

° How ironic is it that the Salt Lake Tribune feels the Public Lands Initiative fails because it was so influenced by locally elected officials.


° Utah's Governor says there is still time for a legislative fix.  He's right, but Senate Democrats and Obama would have to get on board, and that is highly unlikely.
° There are many tools the administration could use to administratively protect these areas.  The current BLM Director is quoted as saying no matter the outcome of the visit, more resources should be devoted to the effort.  However, these tools require time - public input and NEPA documents - which the Obama adm. doesn't have.  And besides, they aren't as flashy as a Proclamation and won't add to Obama's "legacy".

° During her confirmation hearings and at previous "visits" of this type Sally Jewell has always said there must be a "consensus" in favor of a monument.  I don't believe she even whispered consensus on this trip, and I wonder why?
° The public relations groundwork has been done to establish resources are being damaged, and all points still lead me to believe a Proclamation is forthcoming.  It may not be as large as the proponents wish and probably won't contain the same co-management language supported by the Native American proponents, but one is on the way.

° Enviros are using the race card successfully.  The typical visitor to a Wilderness area, for instance, is an upper-income white male with an advanced degree. But in the case of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument one of their more effective lobbying tools was the involvement of Hispanic groups and leaders, and for the Bears Ears surely the voices of the Native Americans are the most appealing.  It's amazing how the enviros have turned one of their greatest weaknesses - the lack of minorities in the movement and their low visitation rates - into one of their greatest assets in placing more restrictions on federal land.
One final observation would be this National Monument thing is a ruse. The Antiquities Act became law in 1906.  Since then the following laws have been enacted:  Historic Sites Act of 1935, National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, Archeological and Historic Preservation Act (AHPA) of 1974, Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) of 1979, and the Native American Graves Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990.  Review those statutes and you will see the Secretary of Interior has an abundance of authority to survey, identify, study and preserve any site or object of archeological significance. A National Monument designation is not necessary to protect these areas, as all the agencies have to do is implement existing law. 

That’s why I say the whole National Monument movement is nothing but a ruse to take more federal land out of multiple use management.

Till next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation

This column originally appeared in the August editions of the New Mexico Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest

1 comment:

Dave Pickel said...

"That’s why I say the whole National Monument movement is nothing but a ruse to take more federal land out of multiple use management." Let's transfer it to the state(s) instead so that multiple use management becomes single use private land after it's peddled away.