Public Lands Council Executive Director Dustin Van Liew says blocking funds to implement the Department of the Interior's "Wild Lands" Secretarial Order 3310 and halting payments authorized under the Equal Access to Justice Act are encouraging signs that members of the U.S. House of Representatives are listening to the concerns of public lands ranchers. These funding limitations were attached to H.R. 1, the continuing resolution approved by the House to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year.
The order directs the Bureau of Land Management to designate areas with wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as "Wild Lands" and to manage them to "protect" their wilderness values. Van Liew says shifting the BLM's focus from multiple-use management to management for wilderness characteristics presents a threat to the longstanding multiple-use activities on public lands, including livestock grazing.
Also, Van LIew called the Equal Access to Justice Act a win for livestock producers. As it stands, ranchers impacted by these suits must pay crippling legal fees to defend their land, business or way of life. At the very same time, their own hard-earned money is being used to help pay the attorney fees for the very groups attacking them. Van Liew called it a true injustice. The amendment would put a six-month moratorium on all payments from EAJA to give Congress the time to study the issue and make necessary changes.