Western Caucus Press Releases

Bishop Uncovers Additional DOI Documents, Secret Strategizing

14 Missing Pages from National Monument Document Show Land-hungry BLM

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Washington, Aug 11, 2010 | comments
Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, today announced that he recently obtained the preceding 14 pages previously missing from an internal Department of Interior (DOI) memo leaked last February.  The original document obtained in February by Bishop detailed planning within the DOI to use the Antiquities Act to potentially designate up to 13 million acres throughout the West as new national monuments.  The newly obtained 14 pages further detail plans within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to completely overhaul the way federal lands are managed in the U.S., including the creation of new ecosystem areas that require the acquisition of new federal lands. The plans would vastly expand the power, reach and control of federal land managers.

“These 14 pages are further evidence of this Administration’s efforts, under the guidance of Secretary Salazar, to control western lands by unilaterally locking them up without input from local residents and stakeholders nor the approval of Congress.   Their plotting behind closed doors is disingenuous at best and flies in the face of this Administration’s so-called ‘transparency’,”
said Congressman Bishop.   “Thousands of westerners whose livelihoods depend upon access to our public lands stand to be affected by these decisions and yet this document blatantly goes out of its way to exclude their input or participation.  If there was any question about whether or not this Administration has declared a war on the West, these new documents are evidence enough.”

The BLM is only one of the divisions of the DOI that have compiled similar memos.  On February 26, 2010, Congressman Bishop, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) and other Western Caucus Members sent a letter  to DOI Secretary Ken Salazar requesting all relative information pertaining to the DOI’s plans to designate new national monuments throughout the West.  It has been more than five months since the request was made and the DOI continues to refuse to fully comply with the official document request.

“The reality is that this is NOT the complete set of documents pertaining to the Administration’s plans to overhaul the way public lands are managed in this country.  We know that other documents like this are out there. We’ve requested them, but the folks at Interior continue to stonewall,” Bishop added.  “My biggest concern is that if they’re willing to let documents this damning out from their safekeeping, they are surely protecting others that are far worse and even more revealing.”  

Page 3, paragraph 6: The sentence, “In order to expand this network of treasured lands to include the diversity of landscapes currently managed by the BLM…,” shows that the         Administration is working to broaden the jurisdictional scope of lands currently managed by the BLM.

Page 5, paragraph 5: The sentence, “Should the legislative process not prove fruitful, or if a nationally significant natural or cultural land resource were to come under threat of imminent harm, the BLM would recommend that the Administration consider using the Antiquities Act…,” shows that the Administration is constructing a new management structure without the approval of Congress.

Page 6 (b), page 7 (4.), page 8 (3.):  Details planning for further land acquisition and funding mechanisms.

Page 7, paragraph 1; Page 6, paragraph 7:  By their own numbers, the Administration will target the “acute” problem of private landholdings in BLM administered areas to the sum of 412,675 acres, or more than 370,000 football fields.

Page 9, paragraph 5: The sentence, “The BLM recommends that any major funding increases be phased in over a five-year period to allow the BLM time to build capacity in order to accomplish the increased work-load,” shows that the BLM will require an increase in funding to accommodate the proposed expanded management of lands throughout the West.

 “I remain committed to forcing Secretary Salazar and all others involved in this matter into the light of full transparency, which as these documents prove, is not a place they seem to be comfortable,”
Bishop concluded. “But this potential land and power grab needs to exposed, it needs to be laid out before the public, and it needs to be stopped.”
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