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
In order to complete the revised BLM Volunteer Service Agreement form (also available in hardcopy) for fiscal year 2020 starting October 1, 2019, volunteers should check each of the boxes listing the services they plan to provide during the course of the year and then send email to firstname.lastname@example.org about how to submit the form. The volunteer roles associated with those services are described in the pages below:
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.
The Bureau of Land Management has notified us that pruning of the two large cottonwood trees near San Pedro House will begin Monday, October 16, and will require that San Pedro House and the surrounding area be closed to the public for up to three weeks.
Saturday River Walks scheduled for October 21 and 28 have been cancelled. The Bird Walks scheduled for October 28 and November 1 have also been canceled.
Please consider visiting some of the other recreation areas in the SPRNCA during this period, such as Millville, Fairbank, and Murray Springs.
History walks scheduled October 21 at Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate and October 28 at Grand Central Mill will not be affected by this closure. We hope to see you there!
Photo by James Mahoney
The BLM issued a press release announcing the public comment period on its plans to address the iconic cottonwood trees at San Pedro House. The BLM has proposed pruning the healthy tree that overhangs San Pedro House and removing the huge, aging cottonwood just to the west. The Friends of the San Pedro River prefer an alternative in which both trees are pruned and the larger, western tree is left fenced to protect the public and allowed to die naturally.
UPDATE: The arborist’s report and his slide presentation on the trees have been added to the BLM eplanning website where the scoping document is still available. This is your opportunity to provide substantive comments. The deadline has been extended to July 29. BLM asks that these comments be emailed to: email@example.com. The scoping document describes the type of questions that would inform substantive comments. According to the BLM announcement:
In order for your comment to be substantive you must include rationale for why the extraordinary circumstance is triggered.
Again, read the scoping document for details on how to comment. Stay tuned to our FSPR Facebook page for updates.
Finally, Tom Wood of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (and a former President of the Friends of the San Pedro River) has created an on-line petition to save the trees. “Signing” the online petition is one way to express your opinion and feelings about the cottonwoods at the San Pedro House.
Cropped photo by James Mahoney.
The Friday Morning Focus Show featured a discussion about the iconic cottonwood trees at San Pedro House. The show, hosted by Pat Call, invited FSPR President Robert Weissler to discuss BLM’s plans to address these large, aging trees and public reaction and concern over the possible removal of the oldest one. Hear the hour-long radio program.
The BLM will host a public meeting from 6:00 to 8:00 PM on May 19th at their Sierra Vista office, 4070 S Avenida Saracino, Hereford AZ. The public is invited to hear and comment on the four alternatives that have been identified for consideration in the updated San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) Resource Management Plan (RMP) that is under development. For more information, contact the BLM Public Affairs Specialist, Adam Milnor, at (520) 258-7223.
The Friends of the San Pedro River urge you to attend to voice your support for continued preservation of our precious riparian area with its rich wildlife habitat and unique cultural resources.