Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Chameleon Paradigm

Mission Creep
The Chameleon Paradigm
Breach of Legislative Intent
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Private property owners in the West must understand the definition of the words coordinate and cooperate in terms of ‘federal speak’. Before the grand passion laws, those federal environmental laws that redefined resource management emphasis from intrinsic to extrinsic (see The Grandest of Special Interests for an explanation), the definition of coordinate and cooperate were known by school children by at least the sixth grade. Today, more people are realizing the words were transformed into pacifying measures to assure citizens of the West their interests in local matters would be upheld.
            The Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) is a good example. The Western states agreed to allow the mandate by the Founders to be changed from a matter of disposal of lands to a matter of retention if certain promises were made. One of the promises was the guarantee that local governments would be allowed to ‘coordinate’ planning that impacted their communities and areas of jurisdiction.
            What local governments have come to realize is coordination is demonstrably transferred and, and another promise in the laws, ‘cooperating status,’ is nominally emphasized. Cooperating status, though, has also been corrupted. In order to achieve such status, an obstacle course must now be negotiated.
            ‘Esplain Plees’
            Most federal agency plans are discovered by reading about the action in the Federal Register. When a question is asked, the respondent is reminded he must seek cooperating status in order to have input. To secure cooperating status, a land use plan must be created. As such, an individual has no official standing. Recognized land use plans come from a governmental body. 
            In the text of FLPMA or NEPA or ESA there in no suggestion that cooperating status is conditional. That interpretation has been invented by the agencies charged with the management of the federal land.
            Moreover, cooperating status doesn’t mean much in actual planning. All the condition implies is that after project is conceptualized and designed comments can be submitted by the cooperator.
            Who cares to comment on a project that has been conceptualized, planned, and set in motion? The spirit of the laws implied that local input would be sought and upheld in the planning process.
That is why ‘coordination’ became the important measure. Coordination implies that local input is involved from start to finish. The falsehood promulgated on the public is this promise doesn’t happen … it has never happened … and it must be avoided if the environmental agenda is to be advanced.
            Mission Creep
            The Forest Service has no resemblance to the great land agency it once was. A simple evaluation can be made by tracing the mission of the agency in its organic act to the mission of today.
The codified mission was simplistic. The agency was “… to secure favorable conditions of water flows and a continuous supply of timber for the citizens of the United States …”
Today, that mission statement does not appear at all in the official Forest Service Website. In fact, an observer is perplexed as to which organic act actually directs the agency. There is certainly no emphasis of securing a continuous supply of timber. As we will learn shortly, the demand to secure favorable conditions of down stream water flows is also meaningless.
Congressman Rob Bishop held a field hearing for the House Subcommittee for National Parks and Federal Lands in Nevada recently. He and Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei found an expanding divide between local needs and agency direction.
For example, travel management plans being imposed by the Forest Service on the West have had little local input. Since travel management is important to local economies, the congressmen were confounded. Where was input in the plan as required by the promise of local coordination?
The three major industries in Elko County, Nevada are mining, agriculture and tourism. Each of those segments opposed the plan as set forth by the agency. It was also revealed the plan was sent to the state for preservation and antiquity approval issues. The plan was rejected and sent back four times.
Invited panel members representing coalition of counties, livestock, Indian tribes, ATV interests, and county commissions further rejected the plan. The record indicates there is little evidence by the agency for local concerns. In fact, there is an arrogance that is stifling.
This can be seen in the Intermountain Region’s policy on water rights. Congressman Amodei questioned the agency policy of demanding private water rights from livestock operators upon grazing permit renewals. There has been no delegation of authority by Congress for such actions. Where the agency manufactured the authority was not answered by Regional Forester, Harv Forsgren, but he did clarify the rationale.
Since the Forest Service claims ownership of all watering facilities in the Region, it is their contention that they must share in the ownership of corresponding water rights. They are demanding the transfer of those rights from the permittee before a new permit is issued.
The Point
The promise of local control is a hoax and there is THE agenda in play. The promise of coordination is reserved by the various NGOs and complicit federal bureaucrats who now oversee the process.
The law, and especially FLPMA, was forced upon the West on the basis the government would retain ownership of lands, but the communities would be central in the planning process. That was vital. Those communities had only one card to play and that was to be at the table, to initiate workable solutions that would allow their communities to prosper and grow, and to have the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms other Americans are granted.
There is no such freedom. It is being denied and engineered in the very processes that the agencies claim protect local interests. The process is simple.
Any local input is given lip service. The actual genesis of ongoing plans are derived and coordinated by NGOs and ideologically driven bureaucrats. That is the true measure of coordination as it exists today.
The breach of first order
The Gila National Forest in New Mexico continues to be the model of forest mismanagement that America must change. That is the case for many reasons, but the most important is the absence of any measure of adherence to the original mission.
Let’s review the Forest Service mission … “to secure favorable conditions of water flows and a continuous supply of timber for the citizens of the United States …” That is a simplistic order.
In the Gila, there is no longer a commercial timber business. In fact, forest management and the expansion of designated Wilderness and de facto wilderness management policies have so negatively impacted timber quality that future opportunities are critically impaired. The mandate for timber as a prerequisite to the agency’s existence is in breach.
Likewise, the mandate of securing downstream water flows is also in breach. In the decade of the ‘50s, the Gila River watershed was producing on the order of 300,000 acre feet annually. Today, that number rarely exceeds 150,000 acre feet.
Bureaucrats will argue it is another clear example of climate change induced by man. Critics will say that no fire, no sheep, no lumbering, and dramatically reduced cattle numbers will ultimately set the stage for water starved stands of trees at 1500-2500 per acre today as opposed to the historical populations of 50. They will also note that growth points are now 12-60 feet into the forest canopy resulting in a dramatic reduction of complexity at wildlife use levels.
The truth is the Forest Service cannot stand on its foundational prerequisites. It has no alternative but to justify its existence on the basis of mission creep driven by selected and elitist agenda manipulation all couched under the guise of public input. The directional process is not coming from the citizens whose livelihoods are predicated on resource use … nor is their wellbeing an issue.
The public scoping decisions are driven by the environmental movement and that comes from the illusory process of gathering priorities from a defined American segment. The enabling legislation has long been perverted and dishonored.
Indeed, there is a need for a congressional investigation. It needs to be focused on the damage this and the other land management agencies have heaped upon an American public who have trusted the actions of their government … who have tried to play by the rules, and … who have had to continually adjust their meager freedoms to accommodate an environmental hoax of astounding proportions.
The federal land agencies need to sit in critical judgment and assessment of their existence. They are an economic calamity, they have failed their mission, and they have circumvented all forms of governmental oversight and control except from those parties that have disdain for the productive pursuits … and the presence of mankind.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Until Congress acts otherwise, the original law is the mission … not the environmental agenda.” 


The sad part is FLPMA became law with the support of Western Senators and Rep's, and the American National Cattlemen's Association and the Public Lands Council.  It created quite a storm in NM, and NM withdrew from the PLC.  This all led to led Rep. Harold Runnels and Senator Domenici introducing legislation which eventually became Sec. 8 of PRIA.  That's the language calling for consultation, cooperation and coordination with respect to allotment management plans.  The original version of the Domenici-Runnels bill was written in my office in Las Cruces and required the concurrence of the permittee.  That got watered down in the legislative process to the "3 C's".  Federal lands ranching has never been the same since the passage of FLPMA, as was the intent of those at Interior who spent years pushing this bill.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess it's handy to get online when you think you have coined a term. I came up with chameleon paradigm a few days ago when thinking about how the state goads its citizenry into making laws that are not in their interest, and then checked online and found your already-established use of the term.