WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) welcomed Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Jim Magagna before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Senator Barrasso invited Magagna to testify on how the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Planning 2.0 initiative will impact ranchers in Wyoming and across the country. Magagna testified alongside BLM Director Neil Kornze and three others.
Barrasso praised Magagna’s extensive background in agriculture and public land management.
“A native of Rock Springs, Wyoming, Jim has served as the executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association since 1998,” said Barrasso. “He is veteran witness before congressional committees. He provides an invaluable perspective on all things related to agriculture and public land management. So I’m happy, Jim, that you could join us today to share your thoughts with us and with the rest of the panel.”
Barrasso talked about how the BLM’s proposed rule will take authority away from local land managers who have the most knowledge and experience managing the resources in their own districts.
“As written, Planning 2.0 will effectively ignore expert knowledge in both local agency offices – and among local land users – and I believe compromise the ability of state and local governments to represent the people and resources in their own districts. In an effort to make its goal of a transition to what’s called ‘landscape-scale’ planning, BLM proposes to shift authority from local and district offices to Washington, D.C.,” said Barrasso.
“Now I appreciate that the BLM wants to make management plans more cohesive among local offices, but developing sweeping, landscape-scale plans from the director’s office in Washington, D.C., I believe, will result in the failure to use invaluable, localized knowledge of ecosystems and resources,” Barrasso continued. “This change would result in plans that don’t reflect on-the-ground realities and ultimately will disenfranchise knowledgeable local agency employees.”
Magagna echoed Barrasso’s comments about how the BLM’s Planning 2.0 initiative will result in less input from local land managers.
“A central component of Planning 2.0 introduces the concept of landscape level planning. We find several dangers inherent in this approach. Attempts to implement broad management plans will necessarily often result in less attention to the resource management needs of a particular land area,” said Magagna. “Landscape level planning moves the input and decision-making processes further from those agency personnel with a working knowledge of the resource, the resource challenges and the resource dependent community.”
Magagna also discussed how the BLM’s proposed rule will actually decrease the amount of time the public has to comment on proposed rules.
“A second component of Planning 2.0 addresses so-called improved opportunities for public input. While Planning 2.0 may engage a greater breadth of the public to provide input, it actually significantly lessens the ability of those most directly involved in multiple use of the resource and therefore most significantly impacted to have meaningful substantive impact,” said Magagna.
“One example of this is in the reduction in the minimum formal comment periods from 90 days to 60 days in terms of a draft proposed plan. Even today with 90 days, there are typically requests for extended periods of time – those are often granted. If we reduce this to 60 days, those requests will increase,” said Magagna.