Letter to the Editor: BLM’s epic land grab

Photo of Gunnison sage-grouse near Monticello, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

OPINION — Recently, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) released its latest land use plan amendments for eleven western states. These plans were drafted with the intent of saving an already flourishing Sage-grouse population.

In 2011, DOI Secretary Salazar invited eleven western governors to draft collaborative solutions to conserve Sage-grouse habitat in a manner in which the States can lead. Utah, and the other states stepped up in true western fashion. After years of hard work and millions of dollars the end of the process has come, and the time to deliver on that promise by the Secretary is now.

To the surprise of the west and its governors, and in violation of federal law, the BLM land use plan amendments unilaterally rejected the efforts of the states. DOI unleashed a paradigm that removes more than 10 million acres of land from economic public access… a lifeline in the west. Including over 228,000 acres in Utah.

No longer can Utahns travel the public lands without far reaching travel restrictions. No longer can new technologies be deployed on public lands to develop the next energy resource. No longer can those acres remain available to responsibly drive the Utah economy in ways it has for over 119 years.

DOI has delivered one of the largest federal land grabs in the history of the US, in the shortest order and with the least deference to the leadership and residents of Utah who depend and recreate on these lands.

It is noteworthy that seven of the bi-partisan western governors filed formal protests, including Governor Herbert whose protest to BLM said “BLM attempts to divert attention away from its illegal decision, by creating a smoke-screen.”

It is without question these land use plans have charted a costly course to litigation. In the federal government’s rush to completion, the cost to the taxpayer will be enormous as they stand in a courtroom defending the indefensible. 

We now must turn to Congress to abate this legal collision course. There are multiple efforts in Congress at this moment, prohibition language in spending bills and stand-alone legislation. These efforts to keep public lands open and stave off costly litigation have champions in Utah’s own Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Chris Stewart, and Sen. Orrin Hatch.

They are on the leading edge of driving solutions to address the greatest threats to Sage-grouse — wildfire and invasive species. Sadly, their message and that of the governors were largely passed over for massive land use restrictions that do little to address either.

It is important the efforts of Reps. Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart, and Sen. Orrin Hatch and Gov. Herbert continue. The BLM’s outright rejection of the governors’ consistency review conclusively demonstrates that the Federal Government has no interest in listening to the voice of states. The result is the single greatest assault on multiple-use and access to federal public lands for recreation and economic growth from which Utah may never recover.

About American Exploration & Mining Association

The American Exploration & Mining Association is a 120 year, 2,500 member, non-profit, non-partisan trade association. AEMA members are in 42 states, including Utah.

Submitted by Devon Coquillard, communications and outreach manager with the American Exploration & Mining Association

Letters to the editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or contributors and are published “as is” without edit. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them; they do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News


Ed. note: On request, the following documents were submitted to St. George News by the American Exploration & Mining Association as referenced in and in support of the above Letter to the Editor. The documents were then submitted to Gov. Gary Herbert’s public information officer, Aimee Edwards, who confirmed in an email to St. George News Friday that the documents so attributed are authentic and were produced by the governor’s office. Likewise, the DOI letter to the governor was submitted to the BLM-Utah and Megan Crandall, its media contact, confirmed by phone Friday it is authentic.

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.


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  • Real Life August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Yep. We should open these lands to more mining. Says the guy who works for the mining companies.

    • Brian August 21, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Says the guy using a computer full of things that were mined, sitting on a chair made of materials that were mined, in a house made of things that were mined, who drives a car made of things that were mined, on roads made of things that were mined, has hobbies using things that were mined, etc, etc, etc. I’m opposed to certain mining ~practices~ (mountain top removal mining, leaving the place a mess, etc), but you’d better be living in a grass hut and wearing a grass skirt if you’re opposed to mining itself, otherwise you’re a hypocrite (think Al Gore). I think the best solution is one of “pay as you go” / “conserve as you go”, where the companies can’t thrash the environment then make up for it later. Policies and procedures have to be in place to deal with toxins as they come out of the ground, not just stick them in a huge pile or pond for someone else to deal with later, after the company is conveniently bankrupt (while the owners are still filthy rich).

      • fun bag August 21, 2015 at 4:16 pm

        “just stick them in a huge pile or pond for someone else to deal with later, after the company is conveniently bankrupt (while the owners are still filthy rich).”

        This is what went on before ol’ nixon signed the epa into existence…

      • Real Life August 21, 2015 at 4:18 pm

        Brian, I am not opposed to mining itself. But, in light of what just happened, I am against irresponsible mining, and irresponsible government agencies managing the aftermath.

    • Dexter August 21, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Shut up stupid

  • Bender August 21, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    How does a federal agency grab land from itself?
    In other headline news, “Mining Lobbyist Caught Lobbying for Mining Industry”

    • Dexter August 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      Easy they take it when they’re not watching themselves. LOL.!

    • native born new mexican August 22, 2015 at 8:57 am

      The government stole the land in the first place and they keep stealing. Down with with the elitist run international government and their agenda 21 plans of which this most recent land grabbing is an example. I think I will go read Thomas Jefferson again. He has some very good ideas about what to do with tyrants.

  • fun bag August 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I got an idea that all you mormon republicans will love. You idiots could go in and poison every single one of the birds, and then there won’t be any birds for “the big mean ol’ librul Obama socialist gubmunt” to worry about protecting, and then all you mormon republicans can go in and drill and frack and mine, and build a bunch of roads, and just destroy all the wildlands to your heart’s content. Will that make you mormon republicans happy, or no?

    • mesaman August 21, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      I got an idea for your phobic moron who chose to live here. Take your chlorpromazine and go on with your pathetic life.

      • fun bag August 21, 2015 at 8:30 pm

        Nolan, how come you lied to us about your real age? How come you ignored my other questions to you?

        • Chris August 22, 2015 at 10:38 am

          I don’t know how old he claimed to be, but he is about 80.

      • Chris August 22, 2015 at 10:37 am

        Look who’s back, the Ashman himself.

      • fun bag August 22, 2015 at 1:57 pm

        would be funny if Nolan became so enraged at his own failed attempts at trolling that he picked up his PC and slammed it into the wall. I would the world would be better off with Nolan offline 😉

    • NotSoFast August 21, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      Sober up Fun Bag. Pheasant hunting tomorrow, remember?

  • ladybugavenger August 21, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve got mineral rights to land in Oklahoma that has natural gas on it, the oil company says there oil on it, should I drill? Or should I be scared of environmental issues pertained to drilling in America? With trump for President and for drilling in America I might have a “gold mine” here, so to speak.

  • Dexter August 21, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I’m gonna be rich in about 40.000.000 years I buried a quart of Pennzoil in my back yard

    • Real Life August 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Quit proving my point to everyone about your feeble little brain. Now do yourself a huge favor and shut up stupid.

    • ladybugavenger August 21, 2015 at 10:53 pm


  • beacon August 22, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Some folks would do well to study the history of our public lands in greater detail before making some of the comments. This land (Utah) belonged to Mexico before the U.S. took it and Utah was established. For many years in this country’s history, lands were released for various purposes until the populace realized that the lands were being abused by corporate interests and insisted that the giveaway be stopped. Utah’s “take back our lands” motto is completely without merit. If the U.S. government determines that some lands should be released, and they have done and still do that regularly, then that is their decision to make. As for the mining and other corporate interests who are salivating at the idea of getting more land, we should all keep in mind the recent Gold King debacle. If strict regulations are not placed on these interests to clean up their dirty work, we will all be held responsible for doing it for them! Talk about socialism.

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