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Front Page » March 2, 2004 » Local News » Public Land Management: Taking a Look at Flpma Part I
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Public Land Management: Taking a Look at Flpma Part I

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The BLM is working on the resource management plan which will define use on the Swell.

With the BLMs ongoing revamping of the resource management plan for the San Rafael Swell and the Price District it pays to keep up to date on the issues that are facing the county and learn more about the laws governing our area. At a recent Emery County Public Lands Council meeting, Dennis Worwood, chairman of the lands council talked about the Federal Land Policy Management Act and some of its highlights. He has taken selections from FLPMA and then discussed them in an easier to understand way. Worwood said, "We could spend days and days talking about FLPMA. My intent was to highlight sections that are commonly misunderstood, or that were pertinent to some of Emery County's concerns. Listed below are the FLPMA quotes, followed by my comments," said Worwood.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...the public lands be retained in federal ownership, unless ... it is determined that disposal of a particular parcel will serve the national interest.

Worwood's comment: Prior to FLPMA, the BLM had been in the business of managing federal land until the government could get rid of it. FLPMA changed that policy and said that the government was going to retain the land, except for those instances when disposing of a piece of land was in the national interest.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...the national interest will be best realized if the public lands and their resources are periodically and systematically inventoried and their present and future use is projected through a land use planning process coordinated with other Federal and State planning efforts.

Worwood's comment: This policy sets the stage for periodic inventories and development of management plans.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...the Congress exercise its constitutional authority to withdraw or otherwise designate or dedicate Federal lands for specified purposes.

Worwood's comment: This is significant because it states that Congress intends to use special designations on BLM land, as a matter of policy. Lands that are "withdrawn", "designated" or "dedicated" to a specific purpose are not managed for multiple use. Hence, FLPMA identifies two types of BLM lands: Those that will be managed under FLPMA for multiple use, and those that will receive some type of special designation. Many rural Utahns believe that FLPMA only dictates multiple use, and that the government is somehow going against FLPMA when they propose wilderness or other designations. This is simply not the case. For years rural Utahns have been telling Congress that we don't need wilderness, and that we can provide all the protection we need under FLPMA. Unfortunately, when FLPMA was being debated in 1976 Congress decided FLPMA alone did not provide all needed protection, and made it clear that some lands would be set aside for this purpose. The present debate is not about whether special designations are needed, but about how much land should be set aside, and where. Had the counties understood this earlier, they might have pushed a proposal through Congress before SUWA gained so many followers.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...the secretary be required to establish comprehensive rules and regulations after considering the views of the general public; and to structure adjudication procedures to assure adequate third party participation, objective administrative review of initial decisions, and expeditious decision making.

Worwood's comment: This states that the BLM needs to involve the public in its decision making.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - be on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield unless otherwise specified by law.

Worwood's comment: If the statement simply said that " be on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield", then FLPMA would be a multiple use law. What FLPMA actually says is that management will be under multiple use, unless some law (such as a wilderness bill or monument proclamation) says otherwise.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...the public lands be managed in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values; that, where appropriate, will preserve and protect certain public lands in their natural condition; that will provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife and domestic animals; and that will provide for outdoor recreation and human occupancy and use.

Worwood's comment: This makes it clear that the BLM is to manage for a variety of resources, and that some lands are to be protected in their "natural" condition.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...regulations and plans for the protection of public land areas of critical environmental concern be promptly developed.

Worwood's comment: This states that the BLM is to identify and protect ACECs, and to do it "promptly".

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...the public lands be managed in a manner which recognizes the nation's need for domestic sources of minerals, food, timber, and fiber from the public lands including implementation of the Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970 (84 Stat.1876, 30 U.S.C. 21a) as it pertains to the public lands.

Worwood's comment: The BLM has the obligation to provide reasonable access to minerals, forage and other resources, and not merely to preserve land. The BLM is involved in a balancing act between resource development and preservation.

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that - ...the federal government should, on a basis equitable to both the federal and local taxpayer, provide for payments to compensate states and local governments for burdens created as a result of the immunity of federal lands from state and local taxation.

Worwood's comment: This refers to Payment in Lieu of Taxes, which is the government's way of compensating the state and county for property tax revenue which is not collected on Federal land.

Definition: The term ''areas of critical environmental concern" means areas within the public lands where special management attention is required (when such areas are developed or used or where no development is required) to protect and prevent irreparable damage to important historic, cultural, or scenic values, fish and wildlife resources or other natural systems or processes, or to protect life and safety from natural hazards.

Worwood's comment: ACECs can be used by the BLM to provide special protection to certain areas, for the above-listed purposes. The BLM does not need to go to congress to have an area declared an ACEC.

Definition: The term ''multiple use" means the management of the public lands and their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people; making the most judicious use of the land for some or all of these resources or related services over areas large enough to provide sufficient latitude for periodic adjustments in use to conform to changing needs and conditions; the use of some land for less than all of the resources; a combination of balanced and diverse resource uses that takes into account the long-term needs of future generations for renewable and nonrenewable resources, including, but not limited to, recreation, range, timber, minerals, watershed, wildlife and fish, and natural scenic, scientific and historical values; and harmonious and coordinated management of the various resources without permanent impairment of the productivity of the land and the quality of the environment with consideration being given to the relative values of the resources and not necessarily to the combination of uses that will give the greatest economic return or the greatest unit output.

Worwood's comment: This definition makes it clear that the BLM is to manage for a broad spectrum of uses, but that multiple use does not mean every use will be allowed on every acre. If the entire landscape is considered, the BLM will probably find a place for most uses and activities. However, there will be some areas where activities will be restricted. This is still multiple use management under the definition.

In next week's issue of the Emery County Progress this article will continue with definitions and clarifications on FLPMA and the BLM's fulfilling of the requirements required within that document.

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