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Secretary Zinke Recommends Keeping Federal Lands in Federal Ownership, Adding Three New Monuments - 12/05/17

WASHINGTON -- Today, in accordance with President Donald J. Trump's April 26, 2017, Executive Order (EO), U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released the final report outlining recommendations he made to the President on some national monument designations under the Antiquities Act.

Recommendations Secretary Zinke made in the final report included the following:

Keep federal lands federal - the report does not recommend that a single acre of federal land be removed from the federal estate. If land no longer falls within a monument boundary it will continue to be federal land and will be managed by whichever agency managed the land before designation

Add three new national monuments - Secretary Zinke recommended beginning a process to consider three new national monuments: The Badger II Medicine Area (Montana), Camp Nelson (Kentucky), and the Medgar Evers Home (Mississippi).

Modify the boundaries and management of four monuments - Bears Ears, Grand Staircase, Cascade-Siskiyou, and Gold Butte National Monuments

Expand access for hunting and fishing - Maintain an ongoing review to ensure public access to encourage more hunting and fishing in monuments

"America has spoken and public land belongs to the people," said Secretary Zinke. "As I visited the Monuments across this country, I met with Americans on all sides of the issue -- from ranchers to conservationists to tribal leaders -- and found that we agree on wanting to protect our heritage while still allowing public access to public land. My recommendations to the President reflect that, in some circumstances, proclamations should be amended, boundaries revised, and management plans updated."

FACT VS FICTION: Antiquities Act and Monument Review

Myth: No president has shrunk a monument.
False: Monuments have been reduced at least eighteen times under presidents on both sides of the aisle. Some examples include President John F. Kennedy excluding Bandelier National Monument, Presidents Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge reducing Mount Olympus National Monument, and President Eisenhower reducing the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado.

Myth: The monument review will sell/transfer public lands to states.
False: This is not true. The Secretary adamantly opposes the wholesale sale or transfer of public lands. The Antiquities Act only allows federal land to be reserved as a national monument. Therefore, if any monument is reduced, the land would remain federally owned and would be managed by the appropriate federal land management agency, such as the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the National Park Service (NPS).

Myth: Removing the monument designation from land will leave Native American artifacts and paleontological objects subject to looting or desecration.
False: This is not true. Whether these resources are found on land designated as a monument, national forest, BLM- managed public land, or other federal land, it is generally illegal to remove or disrupt these resources without a permit issued by the federal government.

Myth: The monument review will close/sell/transfer national parks.
False: No national parks are under review.

Myth: The review was done without meeting advocates for national monuments.
False: The Secretary visited eight monuments in six states and personally hosted more than 60 meetings attended by hundreds of local stakeholders. Attendees included individuals and organizations representing all sides of the debate ranging from environmental organizations like the Wilderness Society and the Nature Conservancy to county commissioners and, residents, and ranchers who prefer multiple use of the land.

Myth: Tribal Nations were not consulted.
False: This is patently false. Before traveling to Utah, the Secretary met with Tribal representatives in his office. On his first day in Utah in May, the Secretary met with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition in Salt Lake City, for just under two hours. Throughout the four-day survey of the Utah monuments, the Secretary also met with local Tribal representatives who represent different sides of the debate. The Secretary also met with Tribal representatives for their input on several other monuments from Maine to New Mexico to Oregon and everywhere in between. Additionally, the Department hosted several Tribal listening sessions at the Department and across the country, including a four hour session with the Acting Deputy Secretary on May 30th.

BLM seeks nominations to Resource Advisory Councils in Oregon - 11/17/17

The Bureau of Land Management continues to seek public nominations for positions on four Resource Advisory Councils in Oregon. As published in a notice in the Federal Register, the BLM is considering nominations for 30 days, until Dec. 1, 2017.

The BLM's RACs, composed of citizens chosen for their expertise in natural resource issues, help the Bureau carry out its multiple-use mission and stewardship of 245 million acres of public lands. Each RAC consists of 10 to 15 members with an interest or expertise in energy and mineral development, ranching, outdoor recreation, conservation, state and local government, tribal and cultural resources, and academia. The diverse membership of each RAC helps ensure that BLM land managers receive the varying perspectives they need to achieve their mission of managing the public lands for multiple uses.

"Restoring trust in the federal government and being a good land manager are two of my top priorities at Interior, and state and local input, particularly in communities surrounding public lands, is imperative to building trust," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Nobody knows the land better than the people who live and work it. Council members provide a valuable service to the Department and offer a variety of perspectives that assist in solving land and resource use issues."

Individuals may nominate themselves or others to serve on an Advisory Council. Nominees, who must be residents of the state or states where the RAC has jurisdiction, will be reviewed on the basis of their training, education, and knowledge of the council's geographic area. Nominees should also demonstrate a commitment to consensus building and collaborative decision-making. All nominations must be accompanied by letters of reference from any represented interests or organizations, a completed RAC application, and any other information that speaks to the nominee's qualifications.

The Southwest Oregon RAC, Southeast Oregon RAC, and John Day/Snake RAC have different positions open in the following categories:

Category One -- Public land ranchers and representatives of organizations associated with energy and mineral development, the timber industry, transportation or rights-of-way, off-highway vehicle use, and commercial recreation.

Category Two -- Representatives of nationally or regionally recognized environmental organizations, archaeological and historical organizations, dispersed recreation activities, and wild horse and burro organizations.

Category Three -- Representatives of State, county, or local elected office; representatives and employees of a state agency responsible for the management of natural resources; representatives of Indian tribes within or adjacent to the area for which the RAC is organized; representatives and employees of academic institutions who are involved in natural sciences; and the public-at-large.

In addition, the Steens Mountain Advisory Council has eleven positions open for public nomination:

* a person interested in fish and recreational fishing in the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area;
* two persons who are grazing permittees on Federal lands in the CMPA;
* two persons who are recognized environmental representatives, one to represent the State as a whole and one from the local area;
* a person who has no financial interest in the CMPA to represent statewide interests;
* a person who participates in mechanized or consumptive recreation in the CMPA, such as hunting, fishing, or off-road driving;
* a recreation permit holder or representative of a commercial recreation operation in the CMPA;
* a person to serve as the State government liaison to the Council;
* a private landowner within the CMPA; and
* a member of the Burns Paiute Tribe.

Questions, nominations and completed applications for RACs should be sent to the appropriate BLM offices listed below:

John Day-Snake RAC: Lisa Clark, BLM Prineville District Office, 3050 NE 3rd Street, Prineville, OR 97754, 541-416-6864.

Southeast Oregon RAC: Larisa Bogardus, BLM Lakeview District Office, 1301 South G Street, Lakeview, OR 97630, 541-947-6237.

Southwest Oregon RAC: Christina Breslin, BLM Medford District Office, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, OR 97504, 541-618-2371.

Steens Mountain Advisory Council: Tara Thissell, BLM Burns District Office, 28910 Highway 20 West, Hines, OR 97738, 541-573-4519.

-BLM-

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America's public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $75 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2016--more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 372,000 jobs.

DOI Announces Approval of Transmission Line Project in Oregon and Idaho - 11/17/17

Boardman to Hemingway Project will create jobs and provide infrastructure to develop America's energy resources

PORTLAND, Ore. -- In a move that will improve the nation's energy infrastructure, create nearly 500 jobs and boost local economies, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced today that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project (B2H Project). The B2H Project will provide additional electrical capacity between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West regions.

The B2H Project, which will have a three-year development phase, will alleviate existing transmission constraints by providing sufficient electrical capacity to meet present and forecasted customer needs. The total capital expenditure for the B2H Project is approximately $1 billion to $1.2 billion.

"The Boardman to Hemingway Project is a Trump Administration priority focusing on infrastructure needs that support America's energy independence," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Today's decision is the result of extensive public involvement and will support the environmentally responsible development of resources to meet the needs of communities in Idaho, Oregon, and the surrounding region."

The ROD allows the BLM to grant a right-of-way to Idaho Power Company for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the B2H Project on BLM-administered land. Located in eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho, the approved route will measure approximately 300 miles long when constructed. The overhead electrical line will be extra-high-voltage (500 kilovolts) and will include an alternating-current transmission system. Because the new line will have increased transmission capacity, it will allow greater use of intermittent sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to connect to the grid.

"This project will help stabilize the power grid in the Northwest while creating jobs and carrying low-cost energy to market," said Katherine MacGregor, acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. "It is a great example of the Administration's America First Energy Plan, which addresses all forms of domestic energy production."

"It's great to finally have an administration that recognizes the importance of working with states like Idaho to get important things done," said Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. "I'm pleased that our federal partners are moving toward making this important infrastructure upgrade a reality. Meeting the electric transmission needs of our growing economy and population will require continued collaboration, and I'm confident that the BLM and Department of the Interior under President Trump will keep providing that kind of constructive leadership."

"BLM's approval of this interstate transmission line is a long overdue decision that will bolster our regional infrastructure and ensure that energy is delivered efficiently and reliably to customers," said Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. "This type of project is the result of a collaboration between multiple stakeholders to move to meet the energy demands of the region."

"The B2H Project will create jobs, provide for Idaho's energy needs and promote the region's energy infrastructure moving forward," said Senator James Risch. "I applaud the BLM for issuing their Record of Decision which is a critical step forward for the B2H Project."

"The Boardman to Hemingway project is critically important to Idaho," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "Providing the infrastructure to deliver affordable and reliable energy will benefit Idahoans and others in the West. I applaud BLM for prioritizing this important work."

The B2H Project will add approximately 1,000 megawatts of much needed bi-directional power capacity between the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West regions. The additional capacity will help improve the regions' ability to transmit low-cost energy from a variety of generation sources to serve residences, farms, businesses, and other customers throughout the region.

The 293.4-mile approved route will run across 100.3 miles of Federal land (managed by the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Department of Defense), 190.2 miles of private land, and 2.9 miles of state lands.

The B2H Project is a national-level priority and an important component of the President's all-of the-above-energy strategy that includes encouraging projects that help to strengthen America's energy infrastructure. The transmission line connects the northern terminus, the Longhorn Substation, a substation planned by Bonneville Power Administration about four miles east of the city of Boardman in Morrow County, Oregon, to the existing Hemingway Substation, near the city of Melba in Owyhee County, Idaho. Construction of the B2H Project is targeted to start in 2021 and will take approximately two to three years once all final permits are acquired. The B2H Project includes construction of the new transmission line, access roads and gates, and communication regeneration sites. The project also includes the removal or rerouting of about eight miles of older transmission lines.

The selected route approved by the ROD is the Agency Preferred Alternative identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Land-use Plan Amendments, which published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016. The ROD represents the culmination of a comprehensive planning process, including a Community Advisory Process conducted by the Idaho Power Company that further refined the routing options. Comments received after public scoping in 2010 further refined routing and added variations.

The final documents and maps showing the Agency Preferred Alternative are available at: http://bit.ly/2hRuQfS.