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N.M. Federal Lands News 3/11

This month’s column will cover an envirocrat who’s trying to hornswoggle us with words, a Christmas present that needs to be returned and water, wolves, land acquisition and a greenie Hollywood star.

The Struggle with Tuggle

I simply must respond to Dr. Benjamin Tuggle’s letter printed in the January edition of the New Mexico Stockman.

Dr. Tuggle is the Regional Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and in his letter states the “Border Patrol has always had unfettered access to lands managed by the Service”, and he further says “nor would I support a policy that precluded the execution of their mission.” He also specifically referred to the San Bernadino National Wildlife Refuge.

I still have a bruise on the bottom of my jaw after reading his letter.

Folks should know that Dr. Tuggle has written other letters, including one in May of 2009 to the Border Patrol Chief of the Tucson sector. The letter was concerning vehicular access to the San Bernadino National Wildlife Refuge and stated such access would only be granted on an “emergency” basis, and an emergency was only when “human life, health and safety” was at stake and must be “immediately addressed.” The letter further stated that if the Border Patrol went off designated administrative roads they must provide “a written or electronic report” within “24 hours of the incident”, that these reports would be reviewed for whether they were “true emergency incidents” and that based upon that review he might “suspend CBP access.”

Does that sound “unfettered” to you?

Think about it.

Let’s say you live in town or a rural area where you have a home or a place of business. Let’s also assume your area has been designated as a high-crime sector by law enforcement authorities.

In spite of the situation, the city or county issues an ordinance that prevents law enforcement from patrolling your area for the purpose of protecting your property or your family’s well being. Under the ordinance law enforcement could only enter your area if you called 911 and reported a crime in process, allowing them to be in “hot pursuit” of the suspects. No patrolling for deterrence of crime, just “hot pursuit” after the fact.

Needless to say the crime rate in your area would go up. Since law enforcement would be patrolling other areas the criminals would consider your area as prime pickings.

Would you and your neighbors consider this to be the appropriate law enforcement technique for your situation? Would the governing officials offer to “collaborate” make you feel any safer? Would you consider this to be a reasonable policy?

Well, for some reason known only to him and the enviro-gods he serves, Dr. Tuggle thinks this policy is just fine.

Also in his letter to the Stockman Dr. Tuggle writes about how his agency is a good “cooperator with the Border Patrol.”

So what does it take to get FWS’s cooperation? Oh, just about $50 million dollars.

You see the Border Patrol has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Interior to provide $50 million in mitigation funds. They have announced the allocation of the first $6.8 million of those funds and all but $230,000 is going to Dr. Tuggle, so he can study such things as “lesser long-nosed bats”.

So now you have the rest of the story.

Dr. Tuggle and his agency have gone on a regulatory rampage by placing green shackles on those attempting to provide border security and are blackmailing a sister agency and thus the American taxpayer.

Weirdo Wild Lands

Just when you are heaving a sigh of relief over the defeat of the Omnibus Wilderness bill along comes Interior Secretary Salazar with a Christmas present. On December 24th he issued Secretarial Order 3310, “Protecting Wilderness Characteristics on Lands Administered by the Bureau of Land Management”. To cut through all the government environmental gobbledygook, this order tells the BLM to re-inventory their land using less stringent criteria and designate qualifying lands as “Wild Lands” during the land use planning process.

The timing of the announcement was interesting. They didn’t announce it while the Omnibus Wilderness bill was still in play for fear it might jeopardize the legislation. The Secretarial Order was accompanied by two field manuals of great length and detail so you know it had been in the mix for quite some time.

They were right — it definitely would have jeopardized the bill as the reaction from the West has been fast and unfriendly.

In a letter dated Jan. 28, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the outgoing chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus; Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Western Caucus; and 47 other House members and eight other senators asked Salazar to rescind Secretarial Order 3310. Representative Bishop said, “ I am increasingly concerned by Secretary Salazar’s and the current administration’s ongoing efforts to circumvent Congress when it comes to creating new public lands policies” and “It is time that they start taking into consideration the people that will be hurt by their decisions to operate in a vacuum, starting with the withdrawal of Secretarial Order 3310.” (None of the members of the NM Congressional Delegation signed the letter)

The Governors of Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Alaska have called for the Order to be rescinded as has the National Association of Counties.

All of this opposition has had some impact. It has just been announced the House Appropriation Committee’s version of the Continuing Resolution which will fund the government for the rest of the year prevents any of the monies from being spent on implementing Secretarial Order 3310. I’m not sure what chance this has of passing in the Senate, but everyone should be contacting our Senators and Reps and asking them to support the defunding of Secretarial Order 3310.

Wild Horses and Water

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners is reviewing a very interesting draft policy. Under this proposal, their State Engineer would notify each federal agency that the continued use of water by feral horses and burros is in violation of state law.

Under Nevada law, waters on public lands must be utilized by livestock or wildlife. The commission argues that feral horses and burros are not livestock or wildlife under federal guidelines, therefore the horses are consuming water resources illegally.

The policy would have the State Engineer notify the BLM it must remove all feral horses and burros because they are “making unlawful use of Nevada waters.”

This will be fun to watch.

Wolves

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is “profoundly frustrated” with the federal policy on wolves in his state and is doing something about it.

In a February 16 letter to Interior Secretary Salazar, the Governor says, “Montana has for years done everything that has been asked: adopting a model wolf management plan; enacting enabling legislation; and adopting the necessary implementing rules. Our exemplary efforts have been ignored. I cannot continue to ignore the crying need for workable wolf management while Montana waits, and waits, and waits. Therefore, I am now going to take additional necessary steps to protect the interests of Montana’s livestock producers and hunters to the extent that I can within my authorities as governor.”

So what’s the Guv going to do? He writes, “First, for Montana’s northwest endangered wolves (north of Interstate 90), any livestock producers who kill or harass a wolf attacking their livestock will not be prosecuted by Montana game wardens. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) wardens will be directed to exercise their prosecutorial discretion by not investigating or citing anyone protecting their livestock.”

Not finished yet, the Governor says, “Further, I am directing FWP to respond to any livestock depredation by removing whole packs that kill livestock, wherever this may occur.”

Obama and the Sundance Kid

Since he is getting out of the bank and car business, Obama now thinks he needs more land to manage. In the just released Presidential budget he is requesting $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation fund for federal land acquisition. There is additional land acquisition money for the Interior Department and for the various states.

The property-grabbing virus is alive and well in D.C.

Finally, Robert Redford is the star of a new movie, but I don’t believe he’ll like this one. The documentary is titled “Robert Redford Hypocrite” and goes after him for opposing a development near his Napa Valley vineyard while he is at the same time selling development lots in the Sundance Preserve for $2 million.

Who knew the Sundance Kid was a two-faced environmental hypocrite? Uh oh, this means he’s now eligible to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Until next time, be a nuisance to the devil and be sure and check those cinches.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship ).