Monday, May 16, 2016

Financial flops – Government style

We all know the federal government can’t be trusted with money as congress goes ape with the public’s money with no accountability.  Federal agencies demand and appropriate more authority not by congressional approval but by fiat and force.  A compliant and complicit Department of Justice aided and abetted by this out of control executive branch make this an untenable position for local control when local control can be more effective in administering lands with less cost to the tax-paying public.   

The feds try to counter this argument by stating the agents on the ground make the difference.  That the agents provide the boots on the ground studies and information that goes into new regulations.  But when new regulations are propagated, they arise not within the local agency, but in the dark recesses of Washington’s massive, bloated agencies and departments.  Bureaucrats, ignoring the” boots on the ground” input, an agenda that must be attained and  little to no knowledge of local conditions, writing rules and regulations that are going to impact the local economy and often the biological health of the area.

The failing stewardship of the US Forest Service and timber production:

In a hearing, February 26, 2013, the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Committee members would learn of the cost to tax payers for the US Forest Service to manage the forests.  The comparison was brutal to federal government officials as local land managers and timber experts laid out “the inadequacies and burdens of current federal forest management practices that have contributed to poor forest health, underfunded schools, lost jobs, and suppressed economic activities in communities near National Forests.  In comparison, state managed forests can often produce hundreds of times more revenue, just from a fraction of the land base while maintaining vibrant, healthy forests to support local communities”.

In that hearing, house members would be given the dismal results; in head to head comparisons the states of Washington, Montana and Idaho, produced more timber on fewer acres of forest, spent less money, yielding higher profits to the state; while lowering the chance of catastrophic wild fires that are the bane of the west.

Washington State produced 30 times more volume per acre and 1283 times more revenue per acre than did the US Forest Service. Montana produced 19 times more volume per acre and 178 times more revenue per acre. Idaho produced 52 times as much volume per acre and 917 times more revenue per acre.

Committee chairman Rob Bishop voiced an ever recurring complaint, “Over the last few decades we’ve seen our National Forest System fall into complete neglect – what was once a valuable asset that deteriorated into a growing liability.  I believe our forests and public lands are long overdue for a paradigm shift,   It’s time for the federal government to cease being the absentee landlord of over 600 million acres of land in this country that it controls and start leveraging those lands in a way the benefits rather than burdens the taxpayers and communities who are forced to play host to the federal estate”.    
“Rather than offering all-too-familiar rhetoric of how complying with one federal law or another ‘costs too much,’ it’s time for the federal government to adjust how it does business, and honor its own statutory responsibilities to manage the forests, including allowing sufficient timber harvests, that benefit forested counties and their schools, as well as improve declining forest health and reduce the threat and soaring costs of catastrophic wildfire”.  Doc Hastings, Natural Resources Committee Chairman 

“Any thought that current federal land management practices could provide levels of harvest which would provide revenue to support local governments or schools and universities is folly.”  Lee Grose, County Commissioner, Lewis County, Washington continued his statement noting that in 2011 the National Forests contributed “less than $1 per acre of revenue to the Federal Treasury”.

Matthew Jensen, a Wisconsin logger testified that, “oversight on the federal timber sale program has become an unjustifiable burden.  Timber harvests have declined by more than 80% over the last two decades.  These declines have devastated rural communities where sawmills and paper mills provided some of the only stable, year-round employment”.

Silas Whitman, Nez Perce Tribal Committee Chairman was asked by Representative Raul Labrador (ID-01); “Chairman Whitman, you talk about how the Tribe manages its lands to produce jobs and revenues while also benefiting fish and wild habitat.  Why is the Tribe able to achieve this balanced management while the Forest Service cannot?” Chairman Whitman responded:  “Simply because we manage”.

Grazing and public access have become a major issues in the western US:

The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service administer livestock grazing on public lands in 16 western states; these states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon,  South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.  The BLM manages over 245 million acres, more than any other federal agency while the Forest Service manages an additional 193 million acres.  

Grazing permits on federally administered lands have slowly decreased as more lands have been declared off limits due to range deterioration and competition for resources with wild life. Drought conditions have  contributed to some grazing lands to be withdrawn from the permit process as well as some areas that have been over-grazed due to poor range management.

Often these restrictions include non-destructive recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, camping and even hiking.   The arbitrary closures of recreational areas barring the public from public lands, lands supported by taxation, is not only unreasonable, but patently illegal.  These lands belong to “We the People”, not the federal government.

Closures need not be a bad thing, so long as the closure has a legitimate reason, one that benefits the land.  Unfortunately, too many times the closure seems to have no legitimate reason, such as the fiasco of the wild Mustangs that roam much of the west.

Some of these closures can be traced to Mustang Horse Herd kills, not round ups and adoption, but kills!   BLM agents claiming the horse herds are affecting other wild life such as deer, antelope and big horn sheep by competing for the available resources.  I question the veracity, as well as the validity of these claims.  Wild horses have ranged on these lands since the 16th century and it is only now that they have become a problem?

The Forest Service restricted grazing in some areas due to nesting Spotted Owls.  How ignorant is this?  Spotted owls do NOT nest on the ground and cows sure as hell don’t climb trees!!!  Then you have the harangue precipitated by Harry Reid and his efforts to gain property for a Chinese solar company.  Again, how do you rectify the claim that Mr. Bundy’s cows were detrimental to the Desert Tortoise population when the city of Las Vegas banned captive breeding of the Desert Tortoise because it was so prolific! 

The Federal Fish and Wild Life Service decided that the Hammonds, an Oregon ranching family was guilty of burning grass within the Malheur National Wild Life Refuge.  They were charged and convicted under a law used to combat terrorism.  Have ranchers now become terrorists?

Mining permits, a legal mine field of agencies and endless regulation:

Mining is a business, it provides employment to miners; produces the raw materials necessary to make many of the products we use; and furnishes the coal to power much of the electrical generation in this country.  From base metals to the exotic, the search for new deposits of useable metals and minerals will continue so long as man inhabits earth.  

Prospecting and exploration are costly and claims must be validated by an agency before the permitting process can begin.  Once the claim is verified and before any work can begin, an Environmental Impact Statement must be completed followed by a full review under the Environmental Assessment.  Upon approval of the EIS/EA, you must obtain a Title 4 Air Quality Permit (dust control); establish a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, (to control waste water, settling ponds and run off); apply for a permit under Title 10 & 40 parts 122 & 136 of the CFR (if the mined material is deemed a strategic metal or mineral) from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the Department of Defense.  

All large scale strip mine operations must re-contour and replant the land with native vegetation.  The additional state permits may be more individually focused so as to protect sensitive areas within the state.  Now if this isn’t enough, if you have water issues such as a stream nearby or have discharge waters that may enter said stream you will need a series 404 & 402 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.  

This administrations “War on Coal” has decimated mining communities across much of Appalachia, Wyoming and the Navajo Nation as demand for coal has dropped sharply.

These are the brutal facts of governmental mismanagement, over-reaching regulation and just plain old lack of common sense.  This is but a short list of problems the government can’t seem to handle.  Now if you’re a private company, when your employee fails to produce, you replace him ; and that is the biggest and best argument for the return to local control of all public lands.

W.M 2016

1 comment:

  1. " brutal facts of governmental mismanagement" that says it all right there W.B. I wish the people would wake up, get informed and yes, a little angry and DO SOMETHING!