Skinner: Monuments Only Part of the Story

Aaron Flint posted on September 19, 2010 20:19 :: 884 Views

In the midst of all the news over the Director of the Bureau of Land Management’s meeting in Malta last week, you may have missed Dave Skinner’s column.

Well, if you’re concerned about a new national monument stretching from Fort Benton to Fort Peck, Montana- that’s only the tip of the iceberg, Skinner opined.

Skinner poured through the leaked documents that were finally released in August.  He notes that the plans to create new monuments and other restrictions across the West, would put more land under BLM control than the BLM already has.  

Vision notes that of BLM’s 264-million-acre total, 127 million acres are already under conservation restrictions. Vision’s authors nonetheless found “some 130- to 140 million acres,” an area “roughly equivalent in size to Colorado and Wyoming combined,” to further be “worthy of consideration as treasured lands.” Do the math … 127 plus 140 is 267 million, more land than BLM now administers.

So what’s the real Vision? BLM is to “rededicate itself,” utterly abandoning its multiple-use mission and history, eliminating all economic uses of public lands in favor of becoming a truncated, primitive park service.    

It raises another interesting point: why would you want to fully fund something like the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) if you didn’t have a plan in place for how to use those dollars? Skinner points out that both Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester (D-MT) support fully funding LWCF.  

The bottom line: $900 million a year, guaranteed forever, of which $450 million a year would be strictly for the Feds to buy up private lands and shut them down. BLM’s share would be $75 million – meaning a rural cleansing of the Breaks ranching community would need only four months worth of funding. What do the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan to do with their shares? 

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