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Hunters, Anglers Defend Land-Management Rules Targeted by Congress

Hunters and anglers are crying foul over moves in Congress to overturn new U.S. Bureau of Land Management rules. (Pixabay)
Hunters and anglers are crying foul over moves in Congress to overturn new U.S. Bureau of Land Management rules. (Pixabay)
February 13, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- A coalition of sportsmen and conservation groups is standing up for the Bureau of Land Management's new land-use planning policies after the U.S. House invoked a rarely used rule to roll back the initiative. The Senate is expected to vote on eliminating the rules as early as next week.

Chamois Andersen, executive director at the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, said the rules ensure public input from the get-go on the multiple uses of public lands and benefits oil, gas, timber and outdoor recreation industries alike.

"That's just going to enable the agency to be more effective at its job with land-use plans that involve natural resource extractive industry as well as all the other uses of the land when it comes to recreation, hunting, fishing and the wildlife that inhabit these lands,” Andersen said.

If the Senate follows the House's lead and overturns what has been called BLM 2.0, the Congressional Review Act prohibits the bureau from issuing similar rules in the future. Andersen said that would undermine years of work by industry, outdoor enthusiasts and conservation groups to improve the bureau's operations.

She said that critics of the new rules are misinformed and think large-scale landscape management equals large-scale protections. Andersen said it really means that the agency can better consider trade-offs, to prioritize some areas for oil and gas development while protecting different but connected parcels.

"It might have critical winter range for elk, or vital aquatic habitat for native cutthroat trout, for example,” Andersen said. "And these are the trade-offs BLM can better consider on a landscape and watershed scale."

Last week's move by the House to eliminate BLM 2.0 came on the heels of a rule change that could pave the way for states to take control of publicly owned lands, and a measure that would remove law enforcement authority from both the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY