Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Protecting the West

Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Protecting the West

Article excerpt

From my perspective, "Protecting the Best of the West" by Wendy Vanasselt and Christian Layke (Issues, Spring 2006) appears to touch on many of the issues that beset the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM is an agency charged with multiple responsibilities but lacks both funding and staff to complete their myriad missions. However, noting that more funding and staff are needed doesn't make it happen. More focus is needed on possible solutions, and I offer the following observations.

(1) Local people need to be actively lobbying for their public-lands agency. Organizations such as the Park Service on both the local and national levels have effective lobbying support whereas the constituencies for the BLM tend to be diverse and often focused on fighting with each other rather than helping the agency. People need to be visiting with their local newspapers and local congressional representatives. They need to be represented in Washington, DC, attend funding hearings, and carry the word as to what the BLM needs. For example, Land and Water Conservation Funds, which have been for years a keystone for ongoing BLM acquisition projects, have been cut by over 90% during the Bush administration, but I see little public outrage.

(2) The BLM needs to allow decisions to be made in a timely manner. Often, because of the various political and paperwork obstacles, nothing is done.

(3) We need to be able to reward the hardworking, competent, and committed members of the BLM staff. …

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