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Guest Editorial 
This page was last updated on January 06, 2009 .

Lander BLM: Do Your Job
(An Open Letter)

by: Reginald Atkins. 12/20/02

Mr. Jack Kelly
Bureau of Land Management
Lander Field Office
P.O Box 589
Lander, WY 82520-0589

Dear Mr. Kelly;

As you may or may not have noticed, I did not attend the Dec. 18th meeting addressing the grazing concerns of the Red Desert common allotment areas. My reason for not attending is that past experience has shown attendance is a waste of time and money on the part of the conservation effort. That said I wish to register the strongest of protest against the performance of the Lander office of the BLM for its LACK of effort in protecting the PUBLIC LANDS in interest of the citizens who have an interest in the long-term health and well being of this fragile native habitat.

We are of the mindset that NOTHING has been done to actively consider the comments and efforts of the conservation community, or to implement EFFECTIVE management of the permittees using these allotments. We have observed many instances of trespassing cattle this season and those trespass incidents were reported to the Lander Field office. It is noted that NO trespassing violations have issued (as stated by the Lander Field Office) and as a result the ranching community has been allowed to run rampant and uncontrolled across the Public Lands. We object strongly to the bureaucratic do nothing approach presented by the Lander Field Office of the BLM.

The conservation community has presented the Lander Field Office with evaluations and technical assessments addressing the depletion of the rangelands and the destruction of the watersheds that are highly important to this desert area. As a part of our effort we have offered suggestions, alternative approaches, and possible solutions to the problems at hand; that is something cattle and sheep industry has NOT done. 

Limnologist Ray Corning has gone to great effort in his attempts to stress the importance of the desert watersheds to the ecosystem. The Lander Field Office has, for all practical purposes, ignored the technical information provided by Mr. Corning even though he is considered an expert in his field. The unwillingness of Lander Field Office to effectively evaluate the technical contents of the papers and comments presented by Mr. Corning hints of bureaucratic ineptness and an inappropriate response to BLM duty to protect the Public Lands. We question the effort of the Lander Field office to educate and inform the State BLM Office and Washington bureau of the Department of the Interior of the concerns at hand. BLM, both local and national, is exhibiting the same type of poor management that is responsible for the occurrence of the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930’s era. BLM is allowing the agricultural industry to continue its attack on public lands.

While we as conservationists have made an effort to listen to the grazing permittees and reach compromising workable solutions BLM has done nothing to encourage or implement responsible use and recovery of this drought depleted habitat. Instead BLM has allowed continued destruction of the desert watershed; four years of drought and it is grazing business as usual in an uncontrolled fashion.

We have repeatedly asked that BLM develop and implement a rotational grazing system that would allow a 4-5 year rest and recovery period for each of the grazing allotments; BLM has apparently ignored any and all suggestions and efforts of compromise from those of us concerned about the long-term health of the habitat and the native species that live there. The Lander Field Office efforts make it appear that BLM is nothing more than a buffer and public relations office for the cattle and sheep industries. BLM has failed miserably to protect the long-term health of the ecosystem and has been ineffective in considering the multiple use aspect of the Public Lands. BLM appears to expend little or no funding on habitat recovery while expending funds to support grazing permittees.

I will also point out that you are aware of, through personal observation, the verbal abuse and disrespect focused at the conservation community by the cattle and sheep industries. Not once did the managers of these meetings ever call these disrespectful individuals (permittees) on their disrespectful behavior. BLM has allowed these grazing permittees to operate with the land grabbing "freeman" mentality, which they overtly advocate. To that attitude, which BLM accepts and encourages by doing nothing to prohibit, we protest strongly.

Furthermore, conservationist representatives have repeatedly asked for information regarding the rangeland condition at the September 2002 time frame. One of Lander Field Office officers implied that the 4-6 inch stubble height standard had been met in some areas, but when we the conservation community asked that copies of the reports be provided prior to seasonal snowfall your office failed to provide the requested information. Is this a delaying tactic and cover up for the cattle and sheep industry?  This again, is an indication of lack of cooperativeness and ineffective range management. To that we protest strongly.

BLM has apparently failed to consider the important life cycle requirements of this fragile desert habitat and community of native species living there. This constitutes FAILURE to protect the Public Lands. To that we protest strongly.

This E-Mail letter will be followed by a hardcopy via U.S. Postal Service.

Reginald D. Atkins
Conservancy of the Phoenix, Inc.
A Non-profit 501(c)(3) Corporation