BLM - A Second Lobbying Effort by ACRA

Tue, 20 Jun 1995 13:36:34 -0400

To the Net:

This is NOT an alert. ACRA does not wish to divert anyone's attention from
the crisis in the House Appropriation Subcommittee on the Interior's efforts
that began this morning at 9AM. (No word as of this hour on that topic). It
is not time to divert our attention to the Senate or the President or to
other issues. The Advisory Council problem in the House is not a done deal.
We could lose or we could win, but it is not time to divert our attention.

On the other hand, there is an issue that has particular importance for our
colleagues out west that will be shortly become a topic in the Senate (note
the change of venu). Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming has been rumored to be
authoring a bill to eliminate the BLM over the few weeks. Yesterday ACRA,
through contacts of CEHP Incorporated, obtained a copy of a memo sent by Sen.
Thomas to his Senate colleagues explaining that cutting out BLM and giving
all the land to the states would save the American taxpayer a whole pile of
money. His memo also requested his colleagues to sign on as co-sponsors of
the bill. It can therefore be taken as fact and no longer rumor that Thomas
intends to write up such a bill. We may be in on this one fairly early in
the process. If he cannot find co-sponsors, especially out west, he will
have a harder time even introducing it to begin with.

Over the next week or two, please call your senators and ask that they not
co-sponsor Thomas' bill to eliminate the BLM. As voting time approaches you
will hear more on this topic.


Below are Thomas' "Key Points" verbatim:

*Requires the Secretary of Interior to offer to transfer all right, title and
interest to all lands administered by the BLM to the states. This includes
all surface and subsurface rights, including mineral holdings.

*The state would be given the option to accept the transfer or decline the
offer. However, if a state accepted the offer, it would be required to
accept all of the BLM lands in their state.

*Provides a 10 year time frame before transfer takes place. This will give
the states time to prepare for the management of these lands

*Saves taxpayers money by reducing the need for annual appropriations for the
BLM. In addition, the bill requires the agency to cut wasteful spending
during the transition period and caps funding levels at $800 million per

*Any water rights held by the federal government associated with the BLM
lands would be transferred to the state.

*Management of wilderness areas would be done by the state in accordance with
the requirements specified under the Wilderness Act.

*The BLM land would stay in public hands. The states will keep the lands for
public good and multiple use purposes.

*Protects access for hunters, sportsmen and recreation activities.


ACRA's position is that there is no gaurantee that, as lands are transferred
out of federal control, NEPA and Section 106 requirements will be met as they
are for BRAC. This means that 270 million acres of land presently protected
by Section 106 and Section 110 (basically land under federal agency ownership
or control), will probably be open for grabs or for *protection* by the

Knowing the status of historic preservation in most states, this does not
mean much. Local and State politics would make short work of the "mineral"
rights transferred. Since most states do not enforce their own state laws on
the environment when it does not suit them, it is hard to believe that states
will enforce federal wilderness laws any better. Or if they are forced to do
so, a federal agency will be required to look over their shoulders
establishing a new (inexperienced) bureaucracy. Just what we need.

As for cutting costs, just who does he think is going to pay for the upkeep
and management of all this land. Since it will now be state land, the folks
in Georgia sure won't want to pay for it, and the tiny population of Wyoming
will be asked to cough up the dough. Does anyone seriously think that the
states can manage the land at the same level as the BLM for less money. Of
course, not. Does Wyoming or any other western state have the population to
support the taxes necessary, of course not. The result will be less money,
less protection, and a free ride for mining interests. Who is really behind
this bill? Your guess is as good as mine.

Tom Wheaton

P.S. ACRA has been turning out up-to-date (sometimes hourly) information
about what is happening in Congress. As all of you must be aware by now, we
are the only ones on the net providing accurate *and* up to date information
to your doorstep. You can count on us for inside, accurate information,
presented in a timely fashion so you can act on it and expect to make a
difference, not two weeks late. We also have the smallest budget of any
preservation or preservation-related association around.

We encourage you to consider joining ACRA and sending in your dues. We
cannot keep this up forever, as much as we would like to.

For information
ACRA - American Cultural Resources Association
c/o 6150 East Ponce de Leon Ave.
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083
404 498 4155