Environmentalists and their supporters in Congress are gearing up for a fight, saying strong federal regulation is needed to protect water and wildlife habitat. “Any admin that tries to reverse 100-year history of #PublicLands that belong to every American is going to have to do it over my dead body,” Sen. Martin Heinrich tweeted after Trump’s election. The Democrat from New Mexico later told The Associated Press that cash-strapped states would probably sell at least some lands to help cover fire suppression and other management costs. “No trespassing” signs would pop up in places where public access has been taken for granted, he said, raising the ire of outdoor sports enthusiasts. “I think you will see a real populist uprising when you start taking away access to people’s local fishing hole,” Heinrich said.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Conservatives seek ally in Trump in Western land disputes
Conservatives who have long complained about the government’s control of vast Western lands hope they will have a new ally in Donald Trump, who has sent mixed signals about how he might manage land and whether he would relinquish federal authority over millions of acres. moratorium on new coal production and canceled dozens of oil and gas leases. Despite their shared preference for local control, activists do not have a single plan for accomplishing it. Much will depend on Trump, who told Field & Stream magazine in January that he opposed transferring federal lands to the states. “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do,” Trump said. “I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble?” Yet he endorsed state control in a guest column for a Nevada newspaper, a position the Republican platform strongly backs. A transition team spokesman did not return email messages seeking comment. Zinke, Trump’s choice for interior secretary, has walked a tightrope in Montana, where opinions about federal dominion are more divided than in some Western states. During his re-election campaign, Democrats accused him of signing a pledge in 2012 declaring Montana’s lands as sovereign and not subject to federal control. He said he did not remember doing so and resigned as a GOP convention delegate over the platform’s stance. Yet he has criticized federal land management and voted for demonstration projects allowing states to manage portions of national forests. Republican Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee plans to re-introduce a measure that failed this year authorizing states to administer energy leasing and permitting on federal lands. Another bill that could be offered again would allow the transfer of 2 million acres of national forests to the states. Rep. Mark Amodei, a Nevada Republican, has sought to reduce the portion of land under federal control in his state from more than 80 percent to about 75 percent. Skeptics consider federal land transfer a fringe issue, and industry groups tend to avoid it. The National Mining Association has no formal position, focusing instead on specific battles such as a government proposal to ban mineral development on 10 million acres to protect the imperiled sage grouse. Even a Trump administration and a GOP-controlled Congress probably will not bring any “radical” change in public land management, said Travis Joseph, president of the American Forest Resource Council. Similar predictions arose when Bush was elected, he noted. The logging industry, he explained, is more concerned about shortages of money and agency personnel that prevent timber harvests allowed under existing federal policies. “We accept reality,” Joseph said, “and are trying to make reality work as best we can.”...more