Confirmation Process for Sally Jewell
Sally Jewell, President Obama's nominee to become the next Secretary of the Interior, had her confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 7th and exactly two weeks later the committee by a vote of 19-3 favorably reported her nomination to the full Senate. Sometime in April, her nomination will become the pending business on the Senate floor. We expect there will be a healthy debate about her nomination as well as specific Administration policies affecting public lands, but in time we expect that her nomination will be approved.
We have written numerous times about the desire of the Marine Corps to expand its 29 Palms base into the Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area. The OHV community both in California and here in Washington is actively working this issue on Capitol Hill since the Bureau of Land Management must obtain congressional approval before it can transfer title of the land to the Marine Corps.
This legislative fight is far from over, but we are encouraged with the progress to date. Members of the House and the Senate are hearing loud and clear from OHV enthusiasts that the preferred alternative sought by the Marine Corps will have devastating consequences for OHV recreation in southern California. We are supporting another approach that would provide the Corps the opportunity to expand its base while at the same time preserve OHV riding opportunities. We are still in the tugging and pulling stage, but things are beginning to come together. Stay tuned...
A Land Grab by a Congresswoman from New York City
Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) have done it again by introducing H. R. 1187, legislation that would create additional wilderness areas totaling some 23 million acres across five states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming).
The lead sponsor, Rep. Maloney, hails from New York City. I am not sure what expertise a Member of Congress from Manhattan has in terms of public lands west of the Mississippi. One wonders whether she would like it if another Member of Congress introduced legislation designating New York City's Central Park as a wilderness area. At a minimum, such a designation would make it difficult for city workers to use a lawnmower to cut the grass! Read more...
New Monument Designations by President Obama
We saw this one coming, but we just didn't know when. President Obama announced on March 25th the designation of five new National Monuments. The one that gives us the greatest concern is the Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico. The size and scope of that particular designation seems excessive. Certainly the canyon area of the actual Rio Grande River deserves this special recognition, but to include the surrounding area of more than 240,000 acres is another example of how the whole business of creating National Monuments is getting out of hand. Read more...
A Short Update on Budget Issues
The deadline for the $85 billion sequester came and went. The sky did not fall as some in the White House predicted, but the impact of these cuts is beginning to be felt in various agencies of the government. Congress has now approved funding of the federal government for the last six months of this fiscal year with the adoption of a continuing resolution. The $984 billion funding measure took into account the $85 billion across-the-board spending cuts outlined in the sequester agreement. Federal land agencies received an overall reduction in funding in addition to the 5% sequester haircut. We should begin to see the ramifications of those cuts certainly by this summer as these land agencies curtail activities.
The next looming financial crisis is the May 19th deadline for raising the federal debt ceiling. The question of raising taxes comes into play with this issue and political gridlock seems like a possibility. Congress will be preoccupied the next few weeks dealing with this issue. There is some good news and it has nothing to do with the government. Officially, winter is over. Spring does seem a little slow in getting here but we know it is coming. So, try to forget our current fiscal worries by getting outside with your family and spend time recreating. The diversion will do us all good. Sincerely,
Larry E. Smith
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access
photo courtesy Kane County Utah Office of Tourism and Film Commission
Follow @ARRA_access and join us on Facebook
Please take a moment to follow @ARRA_access on Twitter and visit ourFacebook page to stay connected and up-to-date on all our ARRA developments. Also, please encourage your friends to do so as well!