New attacks on public lands emerge in Congress

Conservation Lands Foundation
|November 17, 2023

A group of far-right public land opponents in the U.S. House of Representatives are attempting to undermine, defund, and outright prohibit the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from doing its congressionally-mandated job of managing U.S. public lands for the enjoyment and use by the American people. 

These representatives have secured several “poison pill” amendments to the House version of the 2024 appropriations bill they recently passed. 

The House appropriations bill also decreased funding for the BLM by 18% below 2023 levels and includes language preventing proper management for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah. 

Take Action: Contact your elected representatives to oppose the House cuts and attacks on public lands

The bill (H.R. 4821) and each of the “poison pill” amendments are a direct assault on BLM’s ability to carry out its responsibilities to protect the treasured landscapes we need for our health and well-being and together, they represent an alarming pattern of attacks on conserving water, nature, and access to public lands:   

Attacks on the BLM Rule:

The House approved H.R. 4821, which includes language that defunds the proposed BLM rule entitled “Conservation and Landscape Health”. The rule will bring balance to how we manage public lands and waters for the benefit of western communities, wildlife and a sustainable future.

Attacks on National Monuments and use of the Antiquities Act:

The House via H.R. 4821 also approved language that undermines the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah by stripping the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) ability to manage the full area of the monument.  This language endorses the former administration's illegal shrinking of the monument and the subsequent resource management plan (RMP). This sets a dangerous precedent for not only Grand Staircase-Escalante, but all of our nation's national monuments. 

Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California’s amendment (#67) prohibits funding for the establishment or modification of any national monuments under the Antiquities Act in Colusa County, California. This runs counter to Tribally- and locally-led efforts to expand Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument to include Molok Luyuk (Condor Ridge in the Patwin language), which is sacred to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, is home to dozens of rare plant species, and serves as a critical wildlife migration corridor for tule elk, mountain lions, and black bears, especially amid a changing climate. The Antiquities Act is an important tool and all conservation options must remain on the table in order to protect these important sacred, cultural, and natural resources.

Rep. Cliff Bentz of Oregon’s amendment (#72) prohibits the use of any federal funds to create national monuments in Malheur County, Oregon under the Antiquities Act. This is a direct attack on decades of locally-led efforts to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands for generations to come.

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona’s amendment (#92) prevents the management and on-the-ground protection of the recently designated Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, threatening cultural, historic, and natural resources in the region, as well as the health of the Grand Canyon’s hundreds of seeps and springs that feed into the Colorado River. Encompassing just over 917,000 acres of federal public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon, the national monument was created after a request by more than a dozen Tribes in the region. 

Attacks on the BLM Management Planning Process:

BLM is directed by Congress to prepare land use plans for public lands under its jurisdiction. Several amendments passed in the House appropriations bill prevent BLM from carrying out these congressionally mandated responsibilities.

Rep. Harriet Hageman of Wyoming’s amendment (#165) prohibits BLM from finalizing, implementing or enforcing the Rock Springs draft Resource Management Plan Revision. The BLM has been working with local community members for over a decade to craft a plan that balances conservation, recreation, and extractive uses on 3.6 million acres and is close to finalizing it with additional input from state leaders and the local community. If this amendment is enacted, it will shut down the participatory public process that is underway, gravely threaten North America's longest migration corridor for mule deer and pronghorn, and diminish Yellowstone’s wildlife populations and local residents’ and Indigenous peoples’ longstanding hunting traditions.

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado’s amendment (#75) prohibits the Director of BLM from taking any action to finalize, implement, or enforce a draft resource management plan and draft supplemental environmental impact statement to end new oil leases on 1.6M acres in Colorado’s Grand Junction and Colorado River Valley region. Coloradoans will be prevented from seeking balanced land management on the landscapes they know and love best -- actions that would sustain its unparalleled Rocky Mountains and $37 billion statewide outdoor recreation economy. The comment period for this land management plan has just ended and this amendment would nullify the voices of Coloradans and others who participated in this public process. 

Attacks on the Western Arctic:

Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia’s amendment (#82) blocks funding for cancellation or suspension of illegally-issued oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or for future cancellation or suspension of oil and gas leases in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) and Arctic Refuge. It is an attack on the Biden administration’s recently proposed Arctic conservation announcement, and undermines the Department of Interior’s ability to meet critical climate goals.

Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia’s amendment (#83) defunds any attempt by BLM to enact the proposed conservation regulations for the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A), where the Willow project was approved in March. This would lead to the undoing of over 13 million acres of proposed conservation land, the largest unit of public lands in the country, and block funding for implementation of future conservation areas in the Reserve.

The Conservation Lands Foundation is working with partner conservation groups, Congressional champions, and community members to remove these bad amendments from the final appropriations bill text. Public lands are critical for our water, wildlife, and way of life. Thriving local economies, Tribal nations, biodiversity, recreation, and our ability to manage the impacts of climate change are all at risk under these extreme attacks on public lands.

Together, we must stop these dangerous amendments from reaching the final appropriations package. 

Join us in contacting your elected representatives to demand that BLM be allowed to carry out its job - managing our public lands for current and future generations to enjoy.


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    Conservation Lands Foundation published this page in Latest News 2023-11-17 10:45:01 -0700
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