Oppose Interior’s plan to relocate BLM out of DC

Oppose Interior’s Plan to Move BLM Washington Office Employees out West

The Interior Department under this administration is relocating the BLM’s headquarters out of Washington, DC to Grand Junction, Colorado along with 27 employees. These include the currently vacant Bureau Director position (President Trump has not nominated anyone to fill the Director’s position), the career Deputy Director for Operations, and all Assistant Directors plus some support staff.  This relocation is a thinly veiled attempt to dismantle the BLM headquarters and diminish its effectiveness as an organization.  The Friends do not support this poorly conceived relocation.


The Friends support the Public Lands Foundation efforts to oppose the BLM reorganization.  PLF notes in its letter to Congress:

The BLM already is organizationally aligned to have office locations that provide for the appropriate coordination necessary to make sound resource management decisions. The western offices of the BLM provide the operational function for the organization. The decentralized nature of the BLM allows for efficient and timely responses to western constituents. Approximately 97 percent of the BLM employees are currently located on-the-ground in Field, District, and State Offices to make land use decisions based on public interest, resource conditions, cooperating agency concerns, and BLM policy.

 

The BLM headquarters located in Washington, D.C. houses about 3 percent of the BLM employees. The Directorate and professional support staff develop national policy and regulations, prepare and manage the budget, and provide program oversight to assure efficient and consistent management across the agency. This work requires coordination and daily interaction with multiple agencies, departments, OMB, the White House, and Congressional members.

 

The PLF does not support the relocation of the BLM headquarters leadership and what appears to be over 80 percent of the headquarters professional staff to locations throughout the west.  This reorganization proposal will result in a weak and ineffective management structure, a loss of national coordination and oversight capability, a loss of consistent agency policy development and implementation, and a subrogation of national interests to powerful local interests.

 

Most PLF members have seen a variety of reorganization efforts. For the most part they have proven to be very disruptive and costly and in the end were found to be problematic and were reversed by the next administration. As an organization, the PLF would ask that this proposal be rescinded. There is no apparent goal other than dismantling the BLM headquarters.

Like-minded FSPR members can help efforts to oppose the BLM reorganization. Members who want to support these efforts can use the draft PLF letter (PDF document and raw text) as a foundation for preparing your own.

If you decide to send letters, please do so before the upcoming House Committee on Natural Resources hearing scheduled for September 10.  Let us know if you need addresses for your representatives.

Thanks for your support!

Friends of the San Pedro River
Email: fspr@sanpedroriver.org

More grazing in SPRNCA? Still time to comment on draft RMP!

How to submit comments on draft SPRNCA Resource Management Plan 
Help us protect the river and celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA).  Submit your substantive comments on the draft RMP to the Bureau of Land Management during the public comment period that ends September 27, 2018.  [In the row for SPRNCA DRMP Vol1, click on the Comment on Document button.]  Use the guide linked here to help you craft your comments.

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More grazing, hunting in SPRNCA?

Attend the Public Meeting in Sierra Vista August 22!

BLM will host another public meeting on the draft RMP at 5:30pm Wednesday, August 22 at the Sierra Vista Police Department.  This is an opportunity to voice your concerns about BLM’s plan to open more areas in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area to grazing and hunting.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released the draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area with a 90 day comment period.  Major changes from the current management approach include increased grazing.

The Friends of the San Pedro River has reviewed the draft and shared our position on the FSPR website.  To begin your own review, you can access the document online. Public input will shape the final plan.

Public meetings on the draft RMP are scheduled for:

  • Aug. 8, 5:30-7 p.m., Benson Fire Department Station 71, 375 E. 7th Street, Benson, Arizona
  • Aug. 22, 5:30-7 p.m., Sierra Vista Police Department, 911 N. Coronado Drive, Sierra Vista, Arizona  (Meeting attendees should use the lobby entrance to access the room)
  • Aug. 23, 5:30-7 p.m., Pima Community College, 401 N. Bonita Ave., Tucson, Arizona

Public input will shape the final plan, and we strongly encourage you to attend one of the public meetings to learn more about the draft RMP and voice your concerns and suggestions.

AZ Supreme Court opens door to Tribute

Thursday, August 9th, was a sad day for the Friends of the San Pedro River and everyone who cares about the continued existence of the San Pedro, a rare, functioning desert riparian area, and the wildlife it supports. By the slimmest of majorities, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit that sought to force consideration of groundwater usage as part of the approval of the Tribute residential development project in the Sierra Vista area.

The Friends hoped the plaintiffs would prevail in order to require that the Arizona Department of Water Resources consider the federal water right for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in determining whether there was 100 years of adequate and legally available water supply for Tribute. Instead, the court ruled that ADWR is under no obligation to consider the impact of additional pumping by Tribute on the San Pedro River. Owners of residential wells in the area should be concerned because this means they too have no protection for their water source from prospective deep groundwater pumping associated with Tribute.

Pumping in the Sierra Vista area is already withdrawing more groundwater from the aquifer than is replenished. The result is a cone of depression where the aquifer is being drained. This cone of depression is spreading and adversely affects the flow of groundwater to the San Pedro River. Tribute will add 7,000 new homes that will require additional groundwater withdrawals from the aquifer. The end-result is sadly easy to anticipate.

FSPR position on draft RMP

The BLM has released a draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA). This plan will govern how the SPRNCA will be managed for the next few decades. The Friends has completed a first review of the document and will provide comments to the BLM during meetings and in writing. We would like to share with you our reaction and concerns.

But first, how to find the draft documents…
The draft RMP is available for the public to review and provide comments on the BLM ePlanning website at https://go.usa.gov/xnTuM.  Get involved!  Your opinion counts. Your voice is needed to counter those with influence who are working behind the scenes to undo the work of the last 30 years.

Public meetings on the draft plan are scheduled for:

  • July 30, 5:30-7 p.m., Sierra Vista Police Department, 911 N. Coronado Drive, Sierra Vista, Arizona (Meeting attendees should use the lobby entrance to access the room)
  • Aug. 8, 5:30-7 p.m., Benson Fire Department Station 71, 375 E. 7th Street, Benson, Arizona
  • Aug. 22, 5:30-7 p.m., Sierra Vista Police Department, 911 N. Coronado Drive, Sierra Vista, Arizona  (Meeting attendees should use the lobby entrance to access the room)
  • Aug. 23, 5:30-7 p.m., Pima Community College, 401 N. Bonita Ave., Tucson, Arizona

Public input will shape the final plan, and we encourage you to attend one of the public meetings to learn more about the draft RMP and voice your opinions and suggestions.

Overall assessment. The BLM has been working on this document for several years. We commend them for the completion of this draft and look forward to working towards issuance of a final plan that continues current protection of this precious national resource.  However, we do have significant concerns as discussed below.
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St. David Cienega update….

SAINT DAVID CIENEGA ONLY $1600 AWAY FROM RESTORATION PLAN!

Matching funds still available thru May 12th.  Double the impact of your donation!  To Learn More: https://cwatershedalliance.com/pages/Project_SaintDavidCienega.htm

 See a brief history of the St. David Cienega, a remnant of the San Pedro River of the past, including its recent decline, and learn what the Community Watershed Alliance plans to do to preserve and restore it in an informative video.

 


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Call to Action on Proposed State Water Legislation

A Sierra Vista area State Senator has introduced legislation that would circumvent current law by easing requirements that new developments must show the availability of a 100 year supply of water. This will clear the way for approval of developments, e.g., the massive development proposed along the San Pedro River south of Benson. It is hard not to view this as a death sentence for our river and the rural character of our area.

Arizona Audubon is organizing comments on the proposed legislation.  In this post, they explain how you can go about registering comments on this issue with our State legislators.

 

Arizona Game and Fish Dept. Seeks Citizen Scientists for American Kestrel Project

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is enlisting the help of landowners and citizen scientists to assist biologists as part of the American Kestrel Partnership, a program designed to collect data to be used to conserve this important species for future generations. AZGFD is participating in the partnership, which is coordinated nationally by The Peregrine Fund.

“The goal of this project is to provide nesting habitat and raise awareness for kestrels in Arizona, while contributing to national efforts to assist these falcons,” said Kurt Licence, an AZGFD biologist. “This great citizen science opportunity will help us to collect data to guide management decisions that could impact the stability of kestrel populations. That data will help us to better understand why long-term studies have shown that American kestrel populations have declined 50 percent across their range in the past 40 years.”

For more information about the program, visit www.azgfd.gov/kestrel or e-mail raptors@azgfd.gov.

URGENT! Public Comment Period on Review of National Monuments Extended to July 10

There is still time to submit your comments on the pending review of many of our national monuments, starting with Bears Ears National Monument.

An Executive Order has been issued calling for review of many national monuments to determine whether to redraw boundaries, reduce protections or even rescind designation for our most diverse and inclusive national monuments.

Since the Antiquities Act went into effect in 1906, millions of acres of environmentally, culturally, and historically important lands in the US have been protected for the enjoyment of generations to come. Without the constant vigilance of groups such as the Conservation Lands Foundation, there is a very real possibility that these lands could be removed from protected status.

Please consider acting now to help protect Bears Ears and other national monuments by clicking here to submit a public comment.

If you wish to make a donation to defend our national monuments, you may click here to make a contribution to the Conservation Lands Foundation to help them continue the fight to protect our national lands.

Appeals court rules ADWR must consider SPRNCA water rights

Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) officials did not properly consider the rights of the Bureau of Land Management, namely the federal reserve water right for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) created by an Act of Congress in 1988, when it gave the go-ahead for a 7,000-home development in Sierra Vista, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

See the article on the appellate ruling (by Howard Fisher of Capitol Media Services) published by the Sierra Vista Herald for further information.