While this information is about southeast Idaho, the issue is relevant for all Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land throughout Idaho.
In March 2023, the BLM released its Upper Snake East Travel Management Plan Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that affects Fremont, Teton, Bonneville, Madison, Jefferson, Bingham, Power, and Clark Counties.
The plan “proposes a network of designated routes and trails for managing travel” in these areas that includes “highway vehicles (low-7 clearance sedans and trucks), off-highway vehicles (OHVs), motorcycles, utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), all terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, bicycles, e-bikes, equestrian, and foot travel.” What it really means is that these modes of transportation are being targeted for a reduction, and in some cases, full elimination, for use on public land. The basic gist of this BLM plan is to take current trails, remove them from use for restorative work, and then build new trails that will be reduced in number, or have more restricted use.
Yes, it is back to the old adage that humans are destroying the environment and need to be banned from using it.
Environmental damage claims include loss of biodiversity from compacted trails, wildlife “harassment”, excessive noise, and watershed disturbance. In the four alternatives, the description of OHV use is broken down into Open, Limited, and Closed (pg 16).
A breakdown of alternatives in Appendix F (pgs F7-F13) includes A, which is continued use with no changes; Alternative B, which is closed to all activity; Alternative C, which is limited use; and Alternative D, which is Open, meaning year round use.
Alternatives have also been classified with an Emphasis, covered on pages 108-109. These are all compared to Alternative A, which is no change, regarding reduction in use. Alternative B has a Natural Resource Emphasis (pg 37) which, as an example, includes decommissioning trails for reclamation, then constructing new trails that have no motorized use. Multiple Use Emphasis is Alternative C (pg 39), which ironically goes on to describe the reduction of use. Alternative D is an Access Emphasis (pg 41), which similarly describes how much reduction there would be for use.
Throughout the document, there are multiple charts detailing the impact of how the land is damaged and can be improved, what species are affected, and how this plan with its different alternatives will protect everything. This information contained here is only a very limited summary of the plan. Bottom line, this is nothing more than an attack against OHV and non-OHV use (pg 112) on public lands, and that is clearly blatant as outlined in Appendix C. And just where does the BLM get its authority to do any of this?
As responsible, accountable government employees, all of their authority and right to make these changes are listed in the plan itself. But the truth is, there is no law for what the BLM is doing, and (c)”Authorization means any…determination, or other administrative decision issued by an agency that is required or authorized under Federal law in order to implement a proposed action.”
Starting with Appendix D(D-1), Policies, Statutes, and Guidance, the first policy cited is 43 CFR Part 8340: Off-Road Vehicles. CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations, the government rules published in the Federal Register that are supposed to reflect the intent of laws passed by Congress. So the BLM is basically saying its own rules gives it authority to do what it is doing in the plan, because there is no law to cite.
Going back to 43 CFR Part 8340, it states one authority for this rule is E.O. 11644. Well, this E.O. (Executive Order) was created in 1972 by President Nixon, it was never a law. He created this to “establish policies and provide for procedures that will ensure that the use of off-road vehicles on public lands will be controlled and directed”, and in “furtherance of the purpose and policy of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321)”.
The second cited authority is E.O. 11989 by President Carter in 1977, which basically excluded the military and law enforcement from these rules, but also dictated that OHV use causing “considerable adverse effects on the soil, vegetation, wildlife, wildlife habitat or cultural or historic resources of particular areas or trails of the public lands, immediately close such areas or trails to the type of off-road vehicle”. So Mr. Dictator Carter made up his own law to close areas that the BLM is using in part to justify its actions while modifying NEPA. “The United States Constitution permits federal agencies to promulgate rules to enable Congress’ legislation“, not executive orders.
“The President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker,” Justice Hugo Black said in the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer case with regard to executive orders. Clearly, the E.O.s by Nixon and Carter were creating laws regarding OHV use on public land.
Several legitimate laws are cited as the authority for 43 CFR Part 8340, that is laws that support the rule, including the Federal Land Policy & Management Act (FLPMA), but none of those laws address OHV use. FLPMA instead states that lands (8) “will provide for outdoor recreation and human occupancy and use”. The draconian OHV rules in the plan clearly violate (7) “goals and objectives be established by law” because there is no law on OHV use, but there is for the establishment of trails. Does the BLM even understand there is no OHV law to follow for this plan?
While 16 U.S. Code § 1531 is also cited as an authority in the CFR, nowhere does it state that public use can be limited or banned. Take note of (a)(4), which states “the United States has pledged itself as a sovereign state in the international community” and to “maintain conservation programs which meet national and international standards is a key to meeting the Nation’s international commitments”. More to come on that. 16 U.S. Code § 1281 is worth reading, and 16 U.S.C. 1241 says to “encourage and assist volunteer citizen involvement in the planning, development, maintenance, and management, where appropriate, of trails”, Were any OHV or non-OHV users, or any county citizens for that matter, involved in the development of this plan?
Appendix A, References (A1-A5), primarily uses only government data, which may be a violation of the Data Quality Act. Has the BLM looked beyond its own data for other studies? For example, the plan states, “It is highly likely that recreation visitor numbers in the TMA would continue to increase in the future. A travel route network that provides for a wide variety of structured motorized and non-motorized opportunities and experiences is more apt to reduce user inclination to travel off-route. This can provide for increased user compliance with route designations which helps to minimize OHV use-related damage to unique and sensitive natural and cultural resources. A travel network that closes and reclaims more routes to year-round OHV use would provide for higher quality recreation experiences for non-motorized users than a network that designates more routes as open to OHV use (pg 113)”. Just how does the BLM know this, did they do a study that proves any of these opinions? Is the BLM clairvoyant or does it have a crystal ball? Even its own 2007 report on OHV use said research was lacking (pg 56).
Know the law, it can be your best friend.
Now, this plan isn’t just a sudden development to take land use away, it has been in the works for awhile as it has been on hold since 2016. On March 23, 2023, the White House announced its intent to dump $2.1 billion into land conservation. Specifically, Strengthening the Stewardship of America’s Public Lands was assigned to the BLM to seek input on a new rule to “modernize” strategies for managing the land. Amazing how this plan and the announcement came out at the exact same time. So how did anyone know to be working on this? Well…
In November 2021, the Department of the Interior joined land managers from around the globe and endorsed a Protected and Conserved Areas Joint Statement on Climate Change and Biodiversity Crisis, which was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP26 and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15. Along with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), signers included the BLM, National Park Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service. All of their signatures can be seen here, on pages 5-7, along with the other foreigners. So even though the law states the U.S. is a sovereign state, the traitors at the head of these agencies are committed to meeting “international commitments”. No surprise given the current incompetent person running the Department of Interior.
This land protection scam is only going to get worse, every species in existence on God’s green earth will eventually be scooped up. The global standard for management is already in place (Criterion 3.1) with “an indication of the activities that are allowed or prohibited” and “Where use and access are permitted” (Criterion 3.6). And they are all in on the 30×30 agenda, which is well understood by California OHV users. So, it’s okay to tear up the land for wind turbines that create noise that harasses wildlife and kills avian life, and solar panels that prevent vegetation growth and habitat, but not okay to use a trail.
Maybe linking this plan to an international plot is a stretch. However, most Americans probably understand there are forces greater than their voice ruling everything. About 85 years ago, there were many who turned their souls over to a dictator and government, blindly following every dictate that was delivered to them. It seems the BLM has been drifting in a similar direction for some time. Maybe it is time to bring the BLM back into reality by confronting them with the laws they are not following and to whom they are accountable.
For recreational areas like Island Park this plan would have a devastating economic impact. Maybe the BLM needs to go back to the drawing board and involve OHV groups to develop a plan, at least that is what the law requires.
Comments on this plan can be made at this link, click on the green Participate Now link on the left, and choose Alternative A. The comment period ends on July 10, 2023.