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By: Robert Janis

U.S. Department of Interior

Is the Department of Interior Planning a Land Grab?

Continued from page 1...

Hawthorne pointed out that the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management must follow specific instructions of laws passed by the Congress on this issue. “The key component of the law is called Multiple-Use Mandate and the Salazar memo, if implemented, would circumvent that,” he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that basically the administration can do what it wants unless stopped by Congress. Due to the Separation of Powers the courts can do nothing. If there is an abuse, then Congress must take action to stop it.

And Congress is doing something.  There is legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives--H.R. 5580--called the National Monument Designation Transparency & Accountability Act. The legislation would help to limit the amount of land that could be designated as a National Monument, and it will prevent arbitrary restrictions on various multiple-use activities including vehicle-based recreation and access to public lands. The BlueRibbon Coalition supports the legislation, added Hawthorne.

However, he warned local ATV riders and clubs to be vigilant in their own regions.  All politics is local, and he asserted that this is actually a local issue. “Local OHV clubs and the grass roots need to be aware and vigilant to prevent any type of land grab on the principles of the Our Vision--Our Values memo,” he said. Although he said that the principles set down in the memo probably will not become federal DOI or BLM policy, little by little the staff in the local offices could implement it incrementally, he said.

He said that local clubs need to track the actions of the local BLM and then use their long-term relationships with the local BLM office to resist it. Hawthorne encouraged local clubs and the grass roots to seek counseling from BlueRibbon Coalition. “BlueRibbon can help with federal land issues and turn you in the right direction when it is state lands that are at issue.  But it is the active club members being involved that can save the land for motorized recreation,” said Hawthorne.

“Be active in the political process. Know who your senators and congressmen are by name and remember, it is the local guy that starts the legal action,” he concluded.

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