Saturday, June 03, 2017

Zinke on why he suspended all Resource Advisory Councils…

By Betsy Z. Russell

New Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – who suspended the RACs that have been the conduit for the past two decades for collaboration and local input on issues that arise on Bureau of Land Management lands – said, “We have to reward collaboration. … We have to reward efforts of everyone trying to work together.” Asked later, at the National Interagency Fire Center, why the RACs have been suspended, Zinke said, “I have 225 different councils and boards, so I suspended them all, so I could ask: What do you do? Who’s on your board? What have you done in the last year? What have you done in the last two years?” He said the Department of Interior is spending $15 million a year on the various boards and councils, and he didn’t want to “pick and choose” which to keep or cut. “So I did it blanket across,” he said. “And alls I asked was two pages. … I just want to know what you do, who’s on the board, what you’ve done the last year, what you’ve done the last five years, so I have a degree, and then as they deliver it, we’ll look at it, and then I give ‘em the thumbs up to continue mission. But that’s why. Rather than me going through a list of 220, I just said … look, if you guys can’t deliver a two-page document and tell me who you are, what you do, how much it costs, and give me your milestones, then maybe we should look at redoing the boards. Most people complied.” He added, “Some of the boards are super about it, and some of ‘em aren’t. Some of the boards don’t even know what they’re supposed to be doing.”...more

The undertone of the article is: Forest Service good, because they have collaborative projects - BLM bad, because Zinke suspended RACs. This is ironic because the FS, as a general policy, doesn't have RACs. If the FS is praised for collaboration and has no RACs, why is it so terrible if the BLM RACs are suspended?

The reporter, even though she quotes the BLM website, doesn't understand the function of RACs. The complete quote from the website is RACs are sounding boards for BLM initiatives, regulatory proposals and policy changes. And that is what they do,not collaborate with several groups to undertake, for example, a thinning project. Also notice they comment on BLM initiatives, whereas many, if not most, collaborative projects are brought to the BLM by outside groups.

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