More on monetizing public lands

The latest on Montana, giving credit where credit is due (i.e. there’s nothing ‘grassroots’ about it):

“The American Lands Council is leading the charge on this. I’m not a member, but I do appreciate that they’re helping elected officials get better educated on this,” Fielder said.

I’m sure that education includes these facts:

ALC bases much of its justification for lands transfer on sections in the Western states’ Enabling Acts that say the federal government “is obligated to extinguish title to additional lands.”

But a University of Utah legal analysis published in October found that phrase applied only to Indian lands, not public lands. The analysis also outlined several laws and Supreme Court decisions that firmly establish federal control of public lands.

“As the owner of public lands, the United States holds the public lands ‘in trust for the people of the whole country,’ not solely for the benefit of adjacent landowners,” the report said.

Someone came up with a new financial twist – give states the land, federal tax dollars keep paying for the upkeep:

Fielder said the state wouldn’t need that much money if the federal government were required to pitch in.  “This catastrophic wildfire condition has grown on their watch. So keeping the federal government on the hook for helping with fire suppression is something we ought to look at,” Fielder said.

And these folks don’t like to collaborate:

But Fielder dismissed collaboratives as ineffective.  “Citizens have very little chance to get their objectives inserted in federal land management plans because paid lobbyists are there at every meeting. They pretty much drown out the local community’s voice,” Fielder said.

I’m sure that’s based on a good set of facts, too.



7 thoughts on “More on monetizing public lands”

  1. Yet, Jon, you agree with the statement from KNF Peck (I guess Brian?) that local decisions by those living with the consequences would be a good deal?

  2. Here is the statement from the post on the Kootenai revision (Peck is a county commissioner, so not Brian Peck): “The best solutions come from the closest spot to the impact. Who better to make the decisions than a diverse group of people living here, in and around the forest?”

    Here’s what I said about that: “I would be more inclined to agree with Peck’s statement if he is talking about a project that is being developed consistent with a forest plan that reflects broader interests.”

    There is nothing inherently correct about Peck’s statement. The best solutions for whom? Maybe sometimes for the majority of those closest to a decision, but that’s not who national forests are managed for. I do agree with the Utah research report: “As the owner of public lands, the United States holds the public lands ‘in trust for the people of the whole country,’ not solely for the benefit of adjacent landowners.”

    I am agreeing with Fielder’s statement in this post – that collaboration on forest plans is ineffective – but for pretty much the opposite reason: it’s hard to effectively collaborate with those beyond the local area who have a legitimate interest in national forest management. From what I’ve seen, the local (read economic/political) interests carry a lot more weight in forest plan collaboration than any ‘paid (presumably environmental) lobbyists’ (if there are such things).

    • Oh, there are such things. I was amazed and impressed at the number of pro Greens who attended the Flathead National Forest planning “collaboratives” last year. I’d have to go to my notes, but it was at least ten. Further, there were plenty of agency retirees, not a one of whom could be described as advocating for active management or multiple use on the timber base. Every one of them took the less logging, fewer roads, more wilderness approach.

  3. Interesting observations (especially about retirees – that’s not usually the position of the retirees association). There have been some previous discussions here about the Flathead collaboration process (e.g., though these seem to be more about who is listened to rather than who shows up (which is probably a more important point). I don’t doubt that there could be that many ‘pro-greens,’ but I would suspect that the terms ‘lobbyist’ and ‘paid’ would both be exaggerations, as well as their influence. But it could be a case where we both look at the same thing and see something different.

    • It seems that it is the extremes of both sides who do not like those three “C-words”. Again, we cannot reach a proper compromise without first having consensus, through open collaboration. Every point of view must be accepted and addressed, and not outright excluded. “End-runs” around rules, laws and policies doesn’t lead to increased trust of the Forest Service. The end results should be multiple mega-plans, which includes all three “C-words”. Finally, there is nothing wrong with carefully considering eco-ideas, before rejecting them, for that particular piece of land. The Agency must also be able to back up that decision, too.

  4. I have never noticed a shortage of environmental interests attending meetings, commenting, being on site, and suing, on any project the Forest Service or BLM might plan. Seems like the locals are always out numbered, on all sides.
    Nor I have ever noticed the Forest Service or BLM not jumping through the many hoops in just proposing a project.
    It’s always about less logging, more wilderness, road closures, and saving those “legacy” snags.


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