Federal Updates

Public Lands Access Alert: The Bureau of Land Management, the largest landowner in the United States, recently published a proposed rule on Conservation and Landscape Health that looks more akin to a protectionist rule from the National Park Service than one from an agency obligated to provide for multiple use and sustained yield.  Among other things, the proposed rule would designate “conservation” as a formal use of BLM lands, on par with development, grazing and recreation.  Of course, SCI does not oppose conservation.  But in the context of the proposed rule, “conservation” is defined as “preservation,” not the “wise use of resources.”

Notably, the rule would allow nongovernmental environmental groups and private companies to purchase “conservation leases” from the BLM to set aside lands and prevent other uses.  While this concept could be put to good use in recovering certain grasslands, the proposed rule is not clear whether hunting and other forms of recreation would also be prohibited under these new leases.  And if that decision is left up to the lessor, SCI has grave concerns that anti-use organizations would use this opportunity to shut down hunting, especially guided hunting, on important public lands.

In response to the proposed rule, past SCI “Legislator of the Year” Senator John Barrasso (WY) has introduced a bill that would require the BLM Director to withdraw the proposed rule.  In support of his bill, Senator Barrasso emphasized that, “[t]he so-called public lands rule … is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to eliminate economic activities on federal lands in Wyoming and across the West.”  He “strongly urge[d] [withdrawing] this disastrous and illegal proposal.”

If the rule is adopted, SCI will work to ensure that hunting is not prohibited on BLM lands traditionally open to recreation.  SCI will continue to push the federal government to implement a “no-net-loss” policy for public lands access across the United States. Sign our petition today!

CWD Funding: In a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, SCI joined AWCP in requesting $30 million in funding for the research and management of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The potential for concerns about the human health impacts of CWD or from declining populations of susceptible species would undermine the funding and participation models that underlie wildlife management in the United States and we thank Congress for its consideration of this critical funding