After thousands of homesteaders laid claim to land in the American West in the 1800’s, vast parcels of land that no one wanted remained. Ultimately these lands were placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which was expected to manage the land for multiple use. Initially these lands were used primarily for mining and grazing, and most BLM administrators were miners or ranchers. But as more Americans headed west, federally owned lands became important to a wider variety of stakeholders than ranchers and miners. The U.S. Congress created a Public Land Law Review Commission in 1970 to make recommendations for the management of federal lands. This commission recommended new legislation that would insure that federal lands were managed to meet a variety of needs, such as recreation, grazing, timber and mineral production, fish and wildlife protection, and oil and gas production.
To support the multiple use mandate of the BLM, Congress easily passed the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) in 1976. This act gave multiple stakeholders (miners, ranchers, biologists seeking to protect threatened and endangered species, communications companies installing microwave towers, Native American tribes seeking to preserve cultural antiquities, land managers controlling the spread of wild horses and burros, environmentalists seeking to establish wilderness areas, and people interested in off-road adventuring a place at the table when land-use decisions were being made.
FLPMA is a complex and comprehensive law that ensures the effective, sustainable management and multiple use of federally owned lands. The BLM administers 6.9 million acres of public land in California, Arizona, and New Mexico within 62 miles of the US-Mexico border. FLPMA requires the BLM to develop, with ample public involvement, resource management plans that ensure the protection and appropriate use of these lands. So what are the consequences to these borderlands of the Department of Homeland Security’s waiver of FLPMA? The construction of a border wall overrides the decisions made in those carefully developed management plans. Management of the diverse stakeholders and their activities is neutralized. Our borderlands are now unprotected, leaving them vulnerable to misuse, neglect, and damage. Click here for a list of all 48 federal laws waived for construction of a border wall.
Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members) and let them know that you oppose waiving The Federal Land Management Policy Management Act to expedite construction of a border wall. Click here if you would like to make a donation to help us fight the border wall.