Monday, June 03, 2024

DuBois column: Are you a target of Biden's 30by30?



Are you a target of Biden’s 30x30?

Recall that Biden issued Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad”, and that Section 216 of that order tasked federal agencies to protect 30 percent of our nation’s land and water areas by 2030.  This will be quite a task as their figures indicate only 12 percent of our lands are currently protected.

It has started, and it appears the 2024 elections are playing a major part in this.

Secretary of Interior Haaland recently announced the expansion of four National Wildlife Refuges for a total of 1.13 million acres:

Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge (NC) may now conserve up to 287,000

Aransas and Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuges (TX) 150,000 acres

Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge (NM and TX) 700,000 acres.

Interior assures us that each of the four Land Protection Plans “were developed through public processes and informed by input from local landowners, Tribal leaders, state wildlife agencies, and other stakeholders. The Plans outline land protection priorities for these refuges that will inform the Service’s interest in acquiring parcels from landowners who are willing to sell property (fee-title) or property rights (conservation easements or cooperative agreements) through purchase or donation.” 

Then we have the Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. The Biden administration has just finalized their so-called “conservation” rule or to be more technically correct The Conservation and Landscape Health Rule. BLM says the rule is needed to put conservation on an equal footing with mining, timber and grazing, while critics say it moves away from multiple-use by giving priority to conservation.

“By putting its thumb on the scales to strongly favor conservation over other uses, this rule will obstruct responsible domestic mining projects and compound permitting challenges, further deepening our already grave foreign mineral import reliance,” says the National Mining Association.

The NCBA says the final rule runs counter to the agency’s multiple use mandate under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). The rule, says the NCBA, “rearranges agency priorities” and places “an outsized focus on the use of restrictive Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) designations that have compromised land and water health across the West.” The result is “a framework that gives the BLM more restrictive land management” which will produce “increased conflict on the landscape.”   

You know times are getting bad when cowboys start talking about “landscapes.”

The types of conservation addressed in this rule are protection and restoration. On the restore side of things, there were differences of opinion on whether livestock grazing can be one of the methods used for restoration purposes.

I’ll just let the BLM explain this for you:

“Some commenters argued that managed grazing can in fact achieve land health standards and that specific practices, such as targeted grazing, have been used to create fire breaks, manage invasive species, and promote land health. Other commenters argued that livestock grazing is incompatible with restoration and that grazing should be eliminated in areas undergoing restoration.”

“This rule is not establishing or revising regulations governing the BLM’s grazing program and does not contemplate using or not using grazing as a land health management tool. As previously discussed, conservation takes many forms on public lands, including in the ways grazing and many other uses are carried out. This rule focuses on conservation as a land use within the multiple use framework and develops the toolbox for conservation use that enables some of the many conservation strategies the agency employs to steward the public lands for multiple use and sustained yield. Grazing as a management tool may fit within these strategies.”

Now isn’t that perfectly clear to you? Do you now have a better understanding of how this rule may affect your allotment?

It really doesn’t matter what you or I think. What counts is the opinion of the powers that be. John Podesta, the White House climate change hit man says, “Today’s final rule from the Department of the Interior is a huge win for ensuring balance on our public lands, helping them withstand the challenges of climate change and environmental threats like invasive species, and making sure they continue to provide services to the American people for decades to come.”

The other thing you need to watch out for is “resilience.” The BLM claims that they cannot manage an area for multiple use and sustained yield unless it is resilient. Ride or drive around your place and see if it is resilient. Don’t know what that means? You best be finding out.

Then we have the national monuments.

Nine months ago Biden traveled to Arizona to designate the 917,000 acre Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni National Monument, the fifth one of his Presidency. And now we learn a coalition of enviros has presented an 800,000 signature petition to Biden and Secretary Haaland urging them, before this year’s election, to use their authority in the Antiquities Act to designate additional areas in seven states: California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois and Maryland.

Notice that New Mexico is not mentioned and that I have previously written of the enviro effort to establish a 245,000 acre Mimbres Peaks National Monument in the Deming area. Let’s combine that with an action just taken by Secretary Haaland. On April 18 she used her authority to withdraw 4200 acres near Placitas. According to an Interior press release, this Public Land Order 7940, “protects, preserves, and promotes the scenic integrity, cultural importance, recreational values and wildlife habitat connectivity of the lands and surrounding area.” This leads me to ask about the Mimbres proposal, “Why has no President or Secretary of Interior of either political party, in all these years felt this area needed this amount of protection?” They didn’t care enough about it to even do a simple withdrawal like Haaland did for Placitas?

I will close by reiterating my astonishment that enviros and other supposed proponents of democracy continue to support the Antiquities Act. There is no requirement for public input prior to a monument being designated. Whether or not the public has a chance to comment is completely at the discretion of the President. There is also no requirement to weigh the environmental consequences of such designation. NEPA doesn’t kick in until after the monument is designated.

One person, the President, can designate however many acres he wants without limitation, without public input and without considering the environmental impact of his action.

Giving one person that kind of control over 640 million acres does not sound like democracy to me.

Until 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 ( and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation

This column originally appeared in the May editions of the NM Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest.

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