27 July 2011 Your Lands on the Line: Congress to Cut Public Participation Out of Public Lands Decisions Posted by: Peter Nelson | 1 comment | Share: Grizzly bears are just one species that could be impacted by the so-called riders. The vitality of America’s wild landscapes, such as those found in the majestic 20-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, depends on budgets passed by Congress. But the U.S. House of Representatives’ funding proposal contains dozens of non-spending related, anti-environmental policy provisions that could bankrupt citizens of their right to weigh in on decisions that affect public lands and wildlife. Two of these so-called “riders” aim to make it difficult for concerned citizens and member-based conservation groups, like Defenders, to be involved in critical public lands decisions that affect wildlife and wild lands. These riders would severely limit the public’s ability to have a say on how national forest lands, which belong to the American people, are managed. One provision (in section 118) impacts Bureau of Land Management lands — some 253 million acres throughout the West, including millions in the Greater Yellowstone area such as the Bighorn Basin. It would require the public to engage in time consuming bureaucratic reviews before having the opportunity to get a fair court hearing on environmentally damaging actions. Public lands offer world-class mountain biking. The legislation would let the BLM move forward with harmful oil and gas drilling in places such as the Bighorn Basin without the benefit of reasonable pubic and judicial oversight. The other (in section 437) targets the National Forest System — 193 million acres in 155 forests across the country, including seven national forests within the Greater Yellowstone region. This provision would block the public from legally challenging potentially harmful Forest Service activities such as logging and road-building. And instead of having 45 days to object to a final decision on a harmful project, the public would be forced to protest prior to a final decision. But even then the agency would have the power to ignore public concerns and exempt some projects from any appeal. These riders would severely limit the public’s ability to have a say on how national forest lands, which belong to the American people, are managed. In a Democracy, it is critical that the public be allowed to participate in decision-making regarding the future of public lands. Do these proposals blocking the people from having a say in the management of their own public lands sound American to you? Contact your Representative today and tell them to put people ahead of special interests — vote against this bad bill! One Response to “Your Lands on the Line: Congress to Cut Public Participation Out of Public Lands Decisions” Sheryl Barnes April 7th, 2013 Dear Peter. Your right. As an advocate for the protection of wild horses, I see it very clearly now. The government is clearing all wild horses off public lands, against the law and the legislators are ignoring the public. There seems to be a big plan here for oil and gas that will not be denied. Even if they break the law. Or change it! As in Indiana and other states, they are passing gag laws to prevent people from showing pictures of how animals are treated behind factory closed doors. More and more public rights are being diminished. Big business has taken over our government and these present legislatures are allowing it. It’s criminal and it leaves you with a sense of helplessness that no matter how many people fight, it doesn’t matter. I have been an animal rights activist for over 20 years and have never seen anything like it. Best to you. Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap- Up California wavering on protection for gray wolves under state law; Defenders of Wildlife featured on the HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell show tonight; A close up look at the science: wolf breeding pairs in Idaho; bad bills for Mexican gray wolves in Arizona. The Votes Are In… You voted, and we listened – now the winners of Defenders’ 2014 Photo Contest are here! See if your favorite won, and take a look at some of the amazing runner-ups. We’ve Got to Protect What’s Left of the Sagebrush Sea New research shows that after a fire, the Sagebrush Sea (home to the imperiled greater sage-grouse) could take up to 20 years to fully recover. With other factors already threatening so much of this habitat, what does that mean for the species that call it home?