PLC, NCBA develop priorities for new presidential administration
Washington, D.C. – As President-elect Donald Trump prepare for inauguration on Jan. 20, the Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released a document identifying their federal land management priorities “to bring responsible management and economic viability back to the western landscape.”
“This is just the beginning of a long transition process,” said Ethan Lane, PLC director. “Over the coming weeks and months, PLC staff will continue to communicate with the Trump Administration and members of the 115th Congress to ensure that ranchers who operate on public lands have operation certainty and that policy and regulations are based on sound science, common sense and the input from local stakeholders.”
The document, titled, Charting a Path Forward: Federal Land Management in the New Administration, began with a letter issued by the PLC, NCBA, the American Sheep Industry Association and Association of National Grasslands, Inc., as well as 21 partner organizations in 11 western states, that emphasized the importance of federal land management in the West.
“In the past eight years, ranchers and other multiple use interests in the West have witnessed an almost wholesale shift in federal land management policy,” the letter read. “What was once – and statutorily continues to be – a clear directive to manage BLM lands for multiple use and sustained yield has instead shifted towards a wholesale focus on ‘conservation’ without responsible management.”
It further notes hope that the Trump Administration will re-evaluate policies and work with the livestock community to make necessary changes in federal land policies.
PLC Secretary/Treasurer and Wyoming rancher Niels Hansen commented, “This process started a long time ago, and right after we saw the outcome of the election, we really began working hard to get our priorities together.”
He noted that there are no new issues on their priority list, and they prioritized their top issues.
“Trump’s team sent out word to everyone – not just agriculture, but everyone – to come up with bullet points,” Hansen explained. “They didn’t want lengthy documents, but they were looking for bullet points on the regulations that negatively affect businesses that the administration can quickly address.”
NCBA and PLC pulled together in Denver, Colo. in early December and created a rough outline of their issues. Then, the draft was finalized and sent out to partnering organizations to sign on.
“We’ve been sitting on the document until it was finally legal to communicate to the transition team,” Hansen said, “and after the first of the year, we rolled it out.”
The nine-page document addresses the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, National Environmental Policy Act reform, litigation reform, tax reform, presidential budget and congressional appropriations.
Within the first 100 days in office, the Associations are calling on the administration to bring an immediate halt to the Sage Grouse Resource Management Plans, repeal the sprawling monument designations made through abuse of the Antiquities Act, address the critical habitat designations imposing stifling restrictions on landowners and immediately withdraw EPA’s Waters of the United States rule and the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule.
Hansen emphasized, “We’ve got to get BLM’s Planning 2.0 rolled back. We’ve also got some major issues with the Forest Planning documents.”
He also said that language must be adopted to pull back implementation of sage grouse plans.
“Prior to the election, we were told that BLM was going to take three years to roll out the sage grouse plans,” Hansen commented. “One of the guys that helped us already got notice that they have kicked back his turnout date from April to the first of July. That is a major impact.”
Other side of D.C.
With a list of issues in hand, Hansen and several other PLC members hit the Hill in Washington, D.C. to visit with congressmen and women.
“We went to the Hill and met with as many as the offices as we could get into,” Hansen said. “We handed them the document and explained the urgency of our points. We wanted to make sure they had a face to put with the issue to understand what’s going on in our world.”
He also commented that the atmosphere of Washington, D.C. has changed in the wake of the election.
“It’s a whole different atmosphere in Washington, D.C., a totally different place from the last eight years,” Hansen said. “It’s really exciting.”
“Ranchers and other multiple-use interests in the West have been subjected to an almost wholesale shift in federal land management policy under the Obama administration,” said Dave Eliason, PLC president. The priorities laid out by the Associations are necessary to restore balance to federal land management and set an agenda that will ensure that ranchers can continue their tradition of stewardship well into the future.”
This article was compiled from the released document, several press releases and an interview with Niels Hansen by Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.