Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Feds vs. Ranchers
At a recent congressional hearing called in St. George where local ranchers aired concerns with the federal Bureau of Land Management, Utah Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, noted that tensions between pro-land development factions and the federal land agency tasked with managing public lands had grown so tense that he feared there would be "bloodshed."
Four days later, his prediction came true with the Jan. 26 shooting death of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, one of the militant occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., who was shot by an Oregon state trooper at a highway barricade.
The St. George meeting took place on Jan. 22. Reps. Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart and Jason Chaffetz —Republican representatives for Utah's 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively—were present at what was an oversight hearing for the Subcommittee on Federal Lands, called to ensure that local concerns were being addressed in the wake of the BLM's recent release of a proposed management plan for national conservation areas (NCAs). St. George Mayor Jon Pike complained that in the six years the BLM spent developing the proposed management plan, not once was he, his predecessor or the city council of St. George ever consulted. Whitlock didn't deny that the BLM hadn't directly worked with the St. George city government but noted the agency had taken in more than 1,000 comments in the past few years and was considering "each one."
Two hours after the hearing Reps. Bishop, Stewart and Chaffetz convened a congressional "listening session," where the three heard comments from constituents about federal land agencies. Fourteen speakers were pre-selected by the congressmen's offices, with the majority adamant in their dislike of federal land agencies, particularly the BLM and Forest Service.
Randy Parker of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation claimed, "We are seeing the systematic dismantling of ranchers' ability to graze their livestock. The BLM and the Forest Service are attacking livestock grazing and water rights," he said. Parker also claimed that the number of ranching families in the area has been reduced by more than 60 percent since the 1950s, and that he believes that is "entirely the fault of federal agencies' policies and grazing fees."
Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman echoed other speakers, claiming that there is a vast "collusion scheme between federal agencies and special interest [environmental] groups."...more