Current Edition

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Editor’s Note: Acting BLM Director Michael Nedd wrote this letter on July 3, seeking input from public lands stakeholders for both land use planning and environmental reviews.

To Stakeholders in America’s Public Lands:

I write to you today to ask for your ideas.  

The President and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have asked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to take a new, in-depth look into our land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes.  As someone who cares about the nation’s public lands, your input is vital to determining how the BLM will approach land use planning going forward. 

Our goal is to identify inefficiencies and redundancies that should be eliminated from our land use planning and NEPA processes, while ensuring that we fulfill our legal and resource stewardship responsibilities. By doing this, we will be able to dedicate more time and resources to completing the important on-the-ground work on our public lands.  

Balanced stewardship of the public lands and resources is more important to the interests of the country and its people than ever before. This mission is also more complex and challenging than at any time in our history. But with your input, we can strike that balance.  

We are opening a 21-day period, beginning on July 3 and ending on July 24, in which you can submit your ideas specific to how we can make the BLM’s planning procedures and environmental reviews timelier and less costly, as well as responsive to local needs. This streamlining effort will help shape how we move forward. You can submit your input by going to

The decisions made in land use plans and after NEPA analyses are fundamental to how BLM public lands and resources are used for the benefit of all Americans. We are committed to working cooperatively with state and local governments, communities, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders to determine the best ways to manage public lands for multiple uses and values, both now and in the future.

This effort is not required under any laws or regulations. We are doing this because we strongly believe that public input, especially at the local level, is an essential component of federal land management. 

We look forward to hearing from you.


Michael Nedd

Acting BLM Director

To the Editor:

On May 15, a parcel package was delivered to our farm by FedEx from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) containing a letter and a copy of the Corps’ Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) and their intention to acquire our property to permanently store dredged materials.

Our 298-acre contiguous, irrigated, prime farm land would become a permanent placement site for dredged material from the Mississippi River. Our fertile and tillable farm ground would be ruined forever if this plan goes through. After a 40-year period, this land would be covered with 7.1 million cubic yards of dredged material at a minimum of 15 feet high.

The Drysdale Farm has been in existence for 78 years as a diversified farm business. My family is in full disagreement with the Corps acquisition of our property. This land has been our livelihood all our life. There are hundreds of acres of unproductive land, owned by government agencies, in much closer proximity to the dredging site that could be used, rather than using valuable farm land to place this dredged material. I am a third-generation farmer and Angus producer on this land. My daughter, who is fourth generation, needs this land to continue her cattle operation.

They don’t make land anymore.

In 1965, the Zumbro River flooded this property, my grandfather and father removed thousands of yards of sand from the very field that the Corps would like to acquire from us.

In 1970, a new dike was built by the Corps to stop flooding of our property and that of neighboring properties in Greenfield Township. The Corps built the dike to save our farm and our neighboring farms. Now, they want to cover the 298 acres with dredged sand.

The outcome of this plan will be a permanent loss of our income and livelihood. If the Corps plans to go forward with the DMMP on Lower Pool Four, this will devastate our economy. There will be a loss of tax base in Greenfield Township, Wabasha County and the state of Minnesota. Our local and regional farm and feed stores, agronomy sites, vet clinics, implement stores and several other dealerships will be affected by this acquisition.

This detailed plan not only affects us and our neighbors but also two other farm producers in the state of Wisconsin. We are working together to save what belongs to us.

We are asking you, as producers and care takers of the land, to please send in comments by June 23 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, please email your U.S. senators. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) can be reached at Jon Tester (D-Mont.) can be reached at Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) can be contacted at, and Sen. John Barrasso can  be reached at

Please help us change this plan for the future of agriculture.


Willard S. Drysdale

Greenfield, Wisc.

Dear Editor:

I recently read Mr. Sun’s column regarding agriculture exports. I couldn’t agree with him more that exports are very important and that bilateral trade agreements are easier for two nations to come to terms than a group of nations. But, I think we have to look at the big picture of what multi-nation trade agreements would look like. Specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) are at the forefront.

Both the TPP and the T-TIP are very much like the European Union, United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and World Trade Organization (WTO). All these organizations are controlled by unelected, appointed bureaucrats who arbitrarily adopt rules and regulate through living, evolving agreements. They dictate who trades with whom and how much, depending on who they want to control that day. This is just one more step toward world government. 

Think back to our COOL (country of origin labeling) program. WTO said it was an unfair and illegal trade practice. Who are these folks who can dictate what happens in our country? Allowing them to do this strips our nation of its sovereignty and our citizens of self-government.

TPP is about so much more than trade. In fact, it has less to do with trade and more to do with establishing control over finance, education, immigration, labor and our own governance. Imagine a “partnership” with 12 nations, some of which have less than one percent of the gross domestic product of the United States, controlled by a dictator guilty of all manners of human rights violations and all having an equal vote in the TPP agreement. This has more to do with us, the U.S. “selling out” than trading.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) has travelled to China and Japan to promote Wyoming products, specifically beef, soda ash and coal, as seen on page of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup (WyLR) on April 22, 2017. This is the type of bilateral trade effort we should put forth – solid trade agreements built one at a time so we establish relationships, trust and maintain equality and fairness in trade. If we fast-forward to the WyLR May 13, 2017 edition in the “Quick Bits,” we see that the White House has announced the resumption of U.S. beef imports to China. How about that? We’re using bilateral trade agreements while preserving our republic.  Now that the beef trade door is opened, can other products be negotiated, as well? American independence fueled by freedom. It does not get any better than that.

Thank you,

Mike Cheser


Editor’s note: This letter has been edited to meet space requirements. To view the complete letter, visit

Open Letter to Appropriators and Interested Parties in the Vicinity of the LaGrange Aquifer Subject Area,

This letter is intended to supplement the First Amended Order of the State Engineer Horse Creek Basin, issued on May 31, amending the original Horse Creek Order issued July 19, 2013.

It is important to note that since the 2013 Order was issued, southeast Wyoming has been blessed with moisture. The recent improvement in hydrology has had important impacts, including the availability of significant streamflow for surface diversions, and in some cases a marked decrease in groundwater pumpage as compared to prior years. That is all good news.

Indeed, the first three years of operation under the 2013 Order saw use of only about 48 percent of the overall groundwater allotted to groundwater irrigation uses in the subject area. Several appropriators even carried some amount of groundwater use into the next order period. This, it appears, was largely due not only to a reliable surface water supply but also to modifications made by some operators’ “plumbing” that made better use of surface water when it was available.

Still, there were some appropriators who had groundwater supplies only, and comments were received that the nominal 12 inches per year, even with some carryover, might be insufficient for their crop water needs.  Without surface water sources to augment their water supplies, some groundwater users were therefore forced to operate as though the drought of the 2000s continued.

One of the primary goals of the 2013 Order was to strike a balance that respected senior surface water rights while allowing those who depended on groundwater to continue to use that interconnected resource without fear of facing curtailment under a call for regulation every year.  In other words, it was an effort to protect all the various interests involved, while at the end of the day still recognizing that prior appropriations for beneficial uses have the better right.  

To accomplish that goal, there was really only one solution. If groundwater rights – generally junior in priority to surface water rights in the Basin – were to continue to be used, they had to be managed or restricted in a way that mitigated impacts to senior surface water rights. Contemporaneous curtailment of well pumping was less desirable because of the time lag between cessation of groundwater pumping and the increased benefits of streamflow increases. 

Given these considerations, a groundwater cap was selected as the most appropriate solution for the first three years. The amount of that cap, as described in the 2013 Order, was informed by recent historic amounts of groundwater use. The terms of 2013 Order were not appealed.

The change in operations necessitated by the 2013 Order was not without controversy. The State Engineer’s Office fielded several questions about measuring devices, possible ways of pooling groundwater supplies and sensed what could be termed a general tension associated with change represented by the 2013 Order.  But well production reports were filed, adjudications were undertaken, and after three years the 2013 Order had become, if not loved, at least recognized.

Now, with the time to revisit its terms at hand, the information gleaned from those first three years is notable. In particular, the amount of overall groundwater used was significantly below what had been determined at that time to be a reasonable level of use that would not result in injury to senior water rights. Had we seen the full 12 inches applied overall, additional information would be in hand to assess how the interconnected groundwater/surface water system had fared.  Instead, with the equivalent of only about half of the total allotment produced, we are able to conclude only that the groundwater reservoir appeared underutilized compared to what modeling indicated it could withstand.

In total, about 21,000 acre-feet (AF) was reserved for groundwater use under the 12-inch cap.  In the first three years under the 2013 Order, only 10,179 AF was reported as actually pumped.  In essence, roughly 11,000 AF remains in the groundwater system, over and above what would be there had the cap been fully utilized. But it was unavailable to those who needed it and possibly unneeded by those who benefitted from the improved surface water hydrology over those years.

It is clear to me that a more liberal cap should be implemented, at least in the short term. Looking at the data, it appears a cap increase could be used to benefit appropriators with access only to groundwater, and it could be done in a way that respects the amount originally embraced by the 2013 Order’s cap. 

The First Amended Order raises the cap to 15 inches per year. It also allows the carryover of up to 10 inches into the next three-year period. 

The limits under the First Amended Order are intended to allow use of the groundwater source at a level it can sustain under current knowledge.  If the coming period is dry, causing groundwater pumpage to maximize, and learned information reveals injury realized to senior water rights, the Order can be readjusted again in 2020. This adaptive management approach is intended to allow the groundwater portion of the interconnected resource do the most good for the most people, while still respecting its use must be limited in some way for the protection of senior rights.

During preparation of the First Amended Order, I also considered all other comments received following the Feb. 15 public hearing. The First Amended Order reflects that consideration, and its contents are the most appropriate at this time given the current amount of information available. In that regard, I note that groundwater data could be greatly improved if more area groundwater users would consent to provide access to their properties for the collection of that data.  

The First Amended Order will be reviewed after three years of operation thereunder, and new information will be available with which to analyze its effects. 

Thank you for your continued interest in our collective work involving the LaGrange Aquifer and Horse Creek, and for all your help providing needed information.


Patrick T. Tyrrell

Wyoming State Engineer