A message from Fred
I served as Chairman of the Owyhee Initiative Project for 11 years,
guiding the Work Group through development and execution of an
historic agreement between environmental groups, ranchers, off road
vehicle organizations, hunters, fishermen, wildlife supporters, the BLM, County Government and the Shoshone Paiute Tribes of Duck
We started this organization as the Owyhee County Commissioners put
out a call to select landowner groups and environmental and
recreation groups to come together to try to resolve decades of land
use conflict that hurt all interests in the BLM lands; there are no
forest lands in Owyhee County, but what worked for the BLM lands can
work for Forest Service lands. After 6 years we reached an agreement
as to restricted wilderness (only 1/6 of what had been sought and
almost obtained by environmental groups), the release of wilderness
study areas in the amount of 200,000 acres back to multiple use
including recreation, designation of wild and scenic rivers, but
retaining cross for motorized vehicles, permanent rights of ways for
off road vehicles across private lands by exchanging the private for
BLM, making the limited wilderness the most accessible wilderness in
the US, with hundreds of regularly used roads and trails maintained
open and cherry stems allowed to remain for access, a science review
for reviewing BLM grazing decisions, a cultural protection program
for the Tribes, and increased law enforcement for the BLM to enforce
travel management plans to be developed for the entire county by the
BLM under guidelines for challenging trail alignments.
Five more years we moved the agreement through congress, first we
had to draft it to fit a republican energy and natural resources
committee in the Senate; then we had to alter it when the democrats
took control. In Marcy 2009, the bill passed in the Omnibus Public
Lands Management Act, and was signed into law by President Obama.
Today, the federal government holds out the Initiative as the only
complete success in collaboration between all users of the public
lands: hikers, berry pickers, equestrians, bicycle riders, off road
motorized vehicles, ranchers, outfitters and guides, skiers,
hunters, fishermen, wildlife enthusiasts, plant enthusiasts.
It would not and could not have occurred without a history of
coordination by the Owyhee County government. Twenty years ago, I
introduced coordination into the relationship between BLM and the
County, in order to save all ranchers in the county from going out
of business with a government management plan that would have
removed cows from the public lands. Using the coordination process
that is set by statute, we were able to keep the feds at bay until
we could put together this collaborative approach.
I openly suggest that the collaboration could not have taken place
had it not been for the success of Owyhee County in the coordination
business. The environmentalists knew that the county had the edge up
on them because the county had standing with the BLM while the
environmentalists did not. That standing is based on the following:
The statutes managing the public lands require that the federal
agency coordinate with the local government as to planning, policy
and management decisions; coordination is defined as early notice to
the local government of what the agency plans to do, open
discussions regarding the impact that the plans have on the county
and its citizens, an acknowledgment of the existence and contents of
any local plan or policy that is contrary to the plan proposed by
the federal agency, and then the agency is directed to use every
means practicable to reach consistency with local planning.
No other groups except the state, Indian tribes and local government
units have this standing. All these levels of sovereignty have the
right to coordination; no other groups do, including the
The environmentalist knew that they would never get the 3 million
acres of wilderness they wanted, with Idaho republican delegation.
Senator Crapo told them the door to his office was through the
county commissionerís office in Murphy, Owyhee County. So, they
joined with ranchers, recreation users and the local government, all
mortal enemies just a few months earlier. The result was a highly
successful collaborative effort in which ranchers gained
significantly , the county gained because it is free of litigation,
and the BLM gained because it is spared repeat addressing of similar
but different law suits.
The Owyhee Initiative contains the first private property rights for
ranchers enacted in 50 years; and it emanates from coordination.
Coordination is simply a statutory process that is set forth by
Congress for the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to
follow in making their plans, policies and land management
decisions. They must involve any local government that stands up for
its people and multiple users of the Forests.
Congress included it in the Federal Land Policy and Management
Act in the mid1970s, and in the National Forest Management Act, as
well as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act,
and other natural resource acts that affect the use of the streams
and lakes in the Forests and on BLM ground.
It is up to the local governments to invoke coordinating, and all it
takes is one letter to engage them. Del Norte County, Modoc County,
Shasta County, Siskiyou County, Inyo County all have coordination
plans or resolutions. In Del Norte coordination is underway and has
been for two years; in Modoc County it is and has been for about 16
years, Shasta and Siskiyou have just recently come on board, and are
ready to sue the Forest Service in order to force it to comply with
National Environmental Policy, the National Forest Management Act,
the Travel Management Program rules, the Transportation and planning
rules of 1982.
The Process is there to be used, it has been since 1974 but until
Owyhee County jumped in to protect its ranchers no local government
had ever convinced the BLM to come around to accepting that they are
going to have to coordinate. Over thirty significant victories have
been won by the county with the BLM. and many success stories also
dot the Modoc County record, setting the stages in both counties for
continuing officials to make the law work for their constituents.
I would like to discuss this process which is so simple to install
and implement; no huge amounts of money will be necessary to make
coordination work; and when local government insists on
coordination, the whole set of issues are called into play:
endangered species, forest services, BLM, water, grazing, allotment
I would like to discuss the specific success stories for Modoc
County and Murphy, Owyhee County. Also, th success in stopping the
Trans Texas Corridor, the first of the connections in the NAFTA
superhighway. Through coordination, 4 small towns, combined
population of 6,000, stopped the projects by one of the best funded
and most powerful transportation departments in the state.
Successes in Fremont County, Wyoming and Fremont County, Colorado
show even more progress. And, in Logan County Kansas on an
endangered species case on private lands.
This process works on private lands and on public lands; you will
become the target of several agencies of government in trying to
These are the things that I want to talk about if possible;
Would like to emphasize Initiative, plus my association as special
assistant to the Shoshone Paiute Tribes for the purpose of
consultation which is their version of coordination.
Would like to pass over Stewards, if that is okay. some environment
groups have labeled them terrorists
More in the morning re some questions for Sylvia.