Letter to the Editor: BLM Director Kornze counters opinion of Mining Association, ‘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

COUNTER OPINION – The goal of the joint Bureau of Land Management-U.S. Forest Service plans to conserve the Greater sage-grouse is, simply put, to ensure that the sagebrush sea — which the bird, hundreds of other wildlife species, and so many western communities rely on for their well-being — flourishes and remains open and accessible. 

The American Exploration and Mining Association’s op-ed in the August 21 St. George News opens with the misleading assertion that all is well with the bird.  The fact remains that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined a few years ago that the bird is in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act.  Since that time, we have been working closely with all the sage-grouse states, including the state of Utah, to craft a conservation plan we hope will allow the Service to determine that major threats to the bird have been abated and that a listing is no longer needed. We believe our plans do just that.

Contrary to the assertions in the op-ed, there is no “land grab.” The plans do not close access to existing rights, grazing or off-highway vehicle routes. Like our fellow Westerners, we believe in and cherish access to the nation’s public lands. 

What’s more important is what our plans do.  They incorporate many elements requested by the individual state governors.  They also help address the threat of rangeland fire. Fire can destroy productive sagebrush habitat and convert previously healthy habitat into cheatgrass-dominated landscapes. When that happens it’s not just bad for the bird, it also harms the people who rely on these lands.

States, landowners and companies need certainty.  Delays would only undermine progress and deny states and businesses much-needed clarity about the rules of the road.  A “not warranted” decision by the Service is possible – but they have made clear that it will only be possible if states, federal agencies, and private landowners put strong conservation measures in place.  

We are striking a careful balance that will provide meaningful benefit to sage grouse and habitat while also protecting Western heritage, improving grazing lands and sustaining rural economies.

Submitted by Neil Kornze, Director, Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C.

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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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10 Comments

  • fun bag August 24, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    It’s my understanding that mormon republicans don’t believe in such a thing as endangered or threatened species, because they know that if all of a species is killed off down here on earth there will always be unlimited amounts of them up on planet Kolob and the other celestial planets. I think this is partially where the ‘use it all up’ mentality comes from… Mormons, correct me if I’m wrong and possible give a more clear explanation of why you all hate conservation so much…?

    • Bender August 24, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Bender the Mormon checking in. The millennial kingdom mindset is an factor in the LDS population that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not uncommon for Mormons to justify environmental deprivations with the excuse that “the second coming is right around the corner”.

      • fun bag August 24, 2015 at 6:41 pm

        The mormon mindset is purely made up of not doing any thinking and blindly trusting the leadership. thats what i’ve noticed over the years. most of them think that anything labeled even remotely “librul” like conservation must be ‘of the devil’… fox news=god’s truth, right mormons?

    • KarenS August 24, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      To set the record straight, there are plenty of Mormons who think conservation is important. Fun Bag’s assertions are just not true. The problem as I see it is the view of some short-sighted businessmen who want to turn back the clock to the “good old days” when land was plentiful and we could “waste” it. Some are just plain greedy but others would like their families to remain on the lands that have been settled by their ancestors. It is only when all of the players are brought to the table to discuss these issues that we can come to a reasonable approach to conservation. Name-calling and blaming religions is not helpful.

      I appreciate the response by the BLM manager and concur with those who have actually studied the issue of the sage grouse conservation.

      • fun bag August 24, 2015 at 6:31 pm

        the nutty brainwashed thinking of mormons starts to get to us after awhile. They need to understand that the men in the black business suits are not always trustworthy and no men in black business suits (no matter their religious title) have anything to do with any Gods or Lords or what have you…

    • AnotherReader August 24, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      @Funbag, from the LDS.org website entitled Environmental Stewardship and Conservation: “This beautiful earth and all things on it are the creations of God (see Genesis 1:1; Moses 2:1; John 1:10; 2 Nephi 2:14). As beneficiaries of this divine creation, we should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations. The earth and all things on it are part of God’s plan for the redemption of His children and should be used responsibly to sustain the human family (see 1 Nephi 17:36; Moses 1:39; Abraham 3:24–25). However, all are stewards—not owners—over this earth and its bounty and will be accountable before God for what they do with His creations (see D&C 104:13–15). All humankind should gratefully use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources, and use the bounty of the earth to care for the poor and the needy (see D&C 49:19-21).”

  • NotSoFast August 24, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Sounds like Fun Bag has his head where the sun don’t shine. As usual.
    Surprise us for once, stay on subject. You think the folks in non Mormon dominated Western states ( a lot of democrats to boot), want the feds telling them when,where and how to take care of their own land? Think Fun Bag- Think.

    • native born new mexican August 24, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      You said it not so fast . To the man writing this article- Dear Mr. bureaucrat I and many, many, many other people don’t believe a word you wrote. Please make us all happy and stop the land grabbing. Why don’t you and your internationalist elite friends go make work for yourselves by building self composting toilets or something. We don’t need you or want you trying to exercise control over the lands we live on and call home. Have a good day ( in Washington DC or some where else) very sincerely me and my very angry neighbors.

      • fun bag August 24, 2015 at 6:34 pm

        More kooky ‘agenda 21’ nonsense. You and brian can be over the top with your conspiracy theories. please take off the tinfoil hat and come back down to earth…

    • Bender August 24, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      BENDER doesn’t want the kooks in the Arizona, Idaho and Nevada legislatures telling him what he can and can not do on his public lands. Think, NOTSOFAST, think! Do you really want these crazy clowns in other states taking over your American public lands and doing whatever they want want with them? You don’t sound like a red blooded American if you do.

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