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WLP Winter 2013 Newsletter

WLP Winter 2013 Newsletter

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Published by westernlands
Semi-annual newsletter of the Western Lands Project
Semi-annual newsletter of the Western Lands Project

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Published by: westernlands on Dec 09, 2013
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            
Western Lands Project
 
 
206) 325-3503
Winter 2013
Volume 17, No. 2In This Issue:
Continued on page 2
New BLM Director Named
Resolution Copper Update
Desert Documentary
Lochsa Land Exchange
Multilaterally Bad Legislation Introduced for Oregon BLM Forest Lands
ome 2.5 million acres of
public forest in Oregon managed by the Bureau of Land Management are facing a logging onslaught under different bills sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The so-called O&C lands, originally granted for construction of the Oregon & California Railroad, reverted to public ownership in 1916 after the railroad company violated the terms of its land grant. The land eventually ended up under BLM management. By statute, the O&C lands were to be managed for several purposes, in-cluding water quality, recreation, and timber production, but the BLM always held that their dominant purpose was timber, and managed the land accordingly. Only the Northwest Forest Plan—formulated in the 1990s as a result of the emerging issues around old-growth forests and the imperiled northern spotted owl—could put the brakes on the un-bridled exploitation of the O&C forests. Nonetheless, the O&C lands have remained a political showcase of nostalgia for the once great, timber-driven rural Northwest economy, and a backdrop to any forest policy issue
du jour.
Oregon’s DeFazio and Wyden both enjoy undeserved reputations as environmental champions. Both are liberal to progressive on social and civil liberties issues, but not on forest and public land issues. Both have favored legislated land exchanges and
quid pro quo
wilderness, and have consistently pandered to their state’s timber-dependent rural areas, cynically seeming to promise a comeback for the glory days of timber.The latest manifestations of this approach appear in separate, somewhat different bills for the O&C lands sponsored by the two.
2 Western Lands Update Winter 2013 Vol. 17 # 2
O&C Lands
From page 1
DeFazio’s bill would more than double logging on the O&C forests, to about 500 million board feet per year. These federal lands would be overseen by a trust for the State, and managed under state logging regulations. The National Environmen-tal Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal laws would no longer apply. Under State control, the land would be open to public “access privileges.” Land exchanges would be exempt from the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which establishes the public-interest criteria and equal-value requirement for trades.DeFazio’s bill passed the House as part of a larger, truly hideous, Republican-spon-sored bill, HR 1526. Among other things, that bill mandates logging levels on national forests nationwide and requires that people mounting legal challenges against forest projects post a bond to cover the govern-ment’s legal expenses. Upon passage of the bill, a shameless DeFazio stated, “I voted today to move the whole package to the Senate, but I don’t support the three [other titles in the bill] that are dead on arrival.”Wyden’s bill for the O&C lands is a classic version of a Senate “less-worse” proposal. His would increase logging levels to 350 million board feet. NEPA would not be totally circumvented, but truncated: compliance would be limited to the issu-ance of two environmental impact state-ments—one for the dry O&C forests and one for the wet forests—that would be deemed adequate NEPA coverage for all projects in their respective areas for a peri-od of ten years. Land exchanges proposed for lands thought to be of “approximately equal value” could be finalized before actual completion of appraisals.The Obama Administration has prom-ised a veto of the House bill of which DeFazio’s is a part, though its prospects in the Senate are so poor that a veto won’t be called for. The prospects for Wyden’s bill are less easy to read. The Administra-tion has opposed a similar bill sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) that would mandate logging levels on three Mon-tana forests, but it is possible a different calculus would apply to Wyden’s bill. It may be just as important to observe how Wyden’s proposal is received and amended (or not) in the Senate: as the new Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Wyden now has great influ-ence over these policies, and the success of his proposal for the O&C lands within the Senate will say a lot about what we can expect from them in the near future on public land issues.
New legislation could se-verely fragment what is left of O&C old growth. Photo: Francis Eatherington
Western Lands Update Winter 2013 Vol. 17 # 2 3
Former Staffer to Harry Reid Nominated For Top BLM position
n early November, President Obama
announced the nomination of Neil Kornze as the new Director of the Bureau of Land Management. True to form, national conservation groups hailed his candidacy and expressed delight at the prospect of working with him. Trout Un-limited CEO Chris Wood praised Korn-ze’s “perfect balance of a deep appreciation for the conservation value of public lands, and the role they play in providing goods and services that drive local economies….”We know Kornze as the former right hand man to Nevada Senator Harry Reid on public land issues. Kornze was Reid’s natural resources aide from 2003 to 2011, including the time when the senator was pushing through two big
quid pro quo
 wilderness bills. Legislation for Nevada’s Lincoln and White Pine counties priva-tized thousands of acres of public land while designating new Wilderness areas. The Lincoln County bill included the con-veyance of a free 448-mile pipeline right-of-way across public lands to facilitate the transport of northern Nevada water to Las Vegas, and it mandated completion of a 13,500-acre public land sale Western Lands Project had successfully challenged in court. It initially contained a cryptic provi-sion that turned out to be a big public land gift to a Reid family friend—later removed after exposure in the press. The bills for both counties also included amendments to the 1998 Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act that opened up incre-mentally more land in the Las Vegas Valley to disposal by public auction.Kornze went to work at BLM in 2011. In his position as principal deputy direc-tor, he has been at the center of the policy siting industrial-scale renewable energy developments on public lands. Western Lands Project has filed suit against the BLM on its solar energy plan.I met with Kornze in Reid’s office a few years back, soon after having worked with the
Los Angeles Times
 on several stories on Reid’s land deals that did not endear us to his staff. As expected, I was not warmly received, but most notable was that Korn-ze seemed baffled by the idea that someone in Seattle should care about public land giveaways in Nevada. Let’s hope he has ad-opted a broader perspective since then.-Janine
Neil Kornze, BLM Director nominee. Photo: BLM

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