Rumors are buzzing about a possible last-minute lame duck vote on an omnibus public lands bill. Last week, PLC, ASI, NCBA, and other livestock affiliates sent a letter to Interior Secretary Salazar, after his recent promise to push for an omnibus public lands bill and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the lame duck session. Today, we have sent two similar letters to congressional leadership: one addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner (cc’d are House Natural Resources Committee Members Rahall, Hastings, Grijalva, and Bishop), and the other addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (cc’d are Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Members Bingaman, Murkowski, Wyden, and Barrasso.)
We ask that you contact your senators and representatives, requesting that they oppose an omnibus public lands bill and full funding to the LWCF. As you know, both could add land to the special land designations portfolio with inadequate congressional deliberation and local stakeholder input. For more information on the potential omnibus bill, see the attached letters and this editorial by Andy Rieber from Western Livestock Journal. For more on the LWCF, also see the letters and this LINK).
Also attached is a list of candidate bills for the potential omnibus lands bill. While the list may not be comprehensive, it includes nearly 260,000 acres of proposed wilderness areas across the west. A few examples:
· Arizona’s Tumacacori Highlands (84,000 acres)
· California’s Fort Irwin, Cady, and Soda Mountain areas (346,000 acres)
· Colorado’s San Juan Mountains (33,000 acres)
· Oregon’s lower John Day River (16,000 acres)
· New Mexico’s Dona Ana County
Other states with pending wilderness legislation include Idaho, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.
Also up for consideration is a bill that could designate a 110,000 acre National Conservation Area in New Mexico’s Organ / Dona Ana Mountains.
Note also the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which was mentioned in the BLM’s “Treasured Landscapes” leaked document for the purpose of federal land acquisition. Other bills mentioned in the leaked document also appear to be up for consideration in a possible omnibus bill. Please review the bills and contact your legislators accordingly.
Manager of Legislative Affairs
Public Lands Council/National Cattlemen's Beef Association