In Tour Promoting New Rule, Bureau Of Land Management Ignores GOP Mountain States It Would Hurt Most
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) doesn’t seem very interested in hearing from constituents who live near public land.
On Wednesday, the agency released its schedule for a tour of Western high mountain states during which BLM officials will present sweeping new regulations on public lands. The proposed Public Lands Rule, published at the end of March, threatens to undermine the multiple use mandate and jeopardizes grazing rights for ranchers. The bureau, which manages 245 million acres primarily across 12 Western states, is preparing to implement conservation leasing and cut off ranchers’ access to public lands.
The states to entertain a visit from BLM officials include Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. Each state is represented by two Democrats in the Senate along with majority-Democrat House delegations. Not listed are Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, where only one out of 16 members of their collective representation in Congress is an elected Democrat. Arizona also remains absent from the lineup, with six out of nine House members Republican.
With more than 90 percent of federal lands located west of the Mississippi River, the new rules will have the most impact in Western states, whose interests are often in conflict with those of Beltway bureaucrats. Recognizing where the BLM primarily manages land, the Trump administration moved the agency to Grand Junction, Colorado in 2020. President Joe Biden’s Interior secretary, Deb Haaland, moved offices of the bureau’s senior leadership back to Washington D.C. last summer.
Even though the BLM still maintains the Grand Junction office as an outpost, located on Colorado’s Western Slope, the agency meetings about its proposed public lands rule will be held in the suburbs of Denver. The state capital is much further from neighboring Utah. In fact, each of the three meetings will be held in urban areas, far away from the ranchers most likely to be impacted.
The closest meeting for Idaho residents, lawmakers noted, “is Reno, Nevada, a trip that can take anywhere between five and fourteen hours by car.”
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