Biden admin public lands/environment wishlist?

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
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It's looking highly likely that we'll be getting a new president and cabinet. \o/ If you were Biden, what would you prioritize from a public lands and environment standpoint?

My list (not in a any particular order)
1. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and lay the groundwork for a transition to alternative energy.
2. Restore the original GSENM and BENM boundaries.
3. Reinstate the protections for Arctic Wildlife Reserve and Tongass National Forest.
4. Restore the Obama clean water rules.
5. Restore EPA regulatory enforcement the Trump admin claimed was an industry hardship during COVID.
6. Reinstate the endangered and threatened species protections rolled back by the Trump admin, and restore the ban on inhumane hunting practices.
7. Restore the NEPA process to its original scope.
 

Udink

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1. Stop designating new wilderness areas and national monuments.
 

LarryBoy

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Honestly most of the things you mentioned (excepting #1) are going to be pretty easy to re-implement - given that they weren't a matter of legislation to repeal the protections, it shouldn't be a matter of legislation to re-implement the protections.

One thing I'd like to see the new administration do is develop new, monument-like management plans for the areas formerly covered by Bears Ears and GSENM, but keep the current formal boundaries as-is until the legal challenge makes its way to the Supreme Court. I think it's important to establish the precedent that a President's delegated power under the Antiquities Act is one-way - only to protect, not to un-protect. Otherwise the next administration could very well revert the boundaries once more, and we'd end up playing pointless ping-pong with public land protections.

Beyond merely re-instating the protections that Trump's administration repealed though, I'd like to see the incoming administration develop, as a legislative priority, a comprehensive plan to fund our public lands on an ongoing basis. Single-time bills like last year's Great American Outdoors Act are welcome, of course, but it's merely putting a band-aid on the problem of chronic underfunding. I'd like to see us invest what it actually costs to maintain our lands in a way that we can be proud of.

What would that include?

1. Dedicated funding for fighting wildfires and fuel management, so the trail/road maintenance, recreational facilities, scientific studies, and wildlife management budgets aren't ransacked each summer to fight fires.
2. A centralized, standardized repository of information for users - when is the last time trail #67 was cleared? Is Hickory Run campground open? That information sometimes exists on government sites these days, but not always, and each land manager (individual forest, park, or BLM office) does it differently. Coordinating it in a way that's standardized across an entire agency would take funding and buy-in from the top.**
3. Incorporating the proceeds from timber sales into the LWCF
4. Establishing a small tax (similar to the Pittman-Robertson surcharges on firearms/ammo) on outdoor recreation equipment, pouring those funds directly back into our public lands.



**Payette National Forest, incidentally, does a great job of this. They've got a color-coded map showing current trail status. Wouldn't it be great of this was standard practice across the USFS?
 

Janice

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Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
275
It's looking highly likely that we'll be getting a new president and cabinet. \o/ If you were Biden, what would you prioritize from a public lands and environment standpoint?

My list (not in a any particular order)
1. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and lay the groundwork for a transition to alternative energy.
2. Restore the original GSENM and BENM boundaries.
3. Reinstate the protections for Arctic Wildlife Reserve and Tongass National Forest.
4. Restore the Obama clean water rules.
5. Restore EPA regulatory enforcement the Trump admin claimed was an industry hardship during COVID.
6. Reinstate the endangered and threatened species protections rolled back by the Trump admin, and restore the ban on inhumane hunting practices.
7. Restore the NEPA process to its original scope.
Note that all start with "re" - I'm hoping people see there's nothing radical here, just returning to reasonable measures from 4 or more years ago...
 

JulieKT

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Sep 7, 2014
Messages
137
One thing I'd like to see the new administration do is develop new, monument-like management plans for the areas formerly covered by Bears Ears and GSENM, but keep the current formal boundaries as-is until the legal challenge makes its way to the Supreme Court. I think it's important to establish the precedent that a President's delegated power under the Antiquities Act is one-way - only to protect, not to un-protect. Otherwise the next administration could very well revert the boundaries once more, and we'd end up playing pointless ping-pong with public land protections.
Agree with everything you said, and I especially want the above part to happen. I also really want the courts to rule that no US president can ever reduce monuments.

On the Biden website, it does say this, which I most certainly hope will be true:

  • Protect natural and cultural treasures. As President, Biden will take immediate steps to reverse the Trump administration’s assaults on America’s natural treasures, including by reversing Trump’s attacks on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Bears Ears, and Grand Staircase-Escalante. On Day 1, Biden will also begin building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s historic conservation efforts by issuing an executive order to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030, focusing on the most ecologically important lands and waters. His administration will work with tribal governments and Congress to protect sacred sites and public lands and waters with high conservation and cultural values. And, he will provide tribes with a greater role in the care and management of public lands that are of cultural significance to Tribal Nations.

Link: https://joebiden.com/tribalnations/
 

balzaccom

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Sep 30, 2014
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Agree with all your points. When I read your headline, I did a quick checklist. You hit them all.
 

fossana

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3. Incorporating the proceeds from timber sales into the LWCF

Are there proceeds?

Using Forest Service budget data and adjusting for inflation, the report finds that Tongass timber sales have generated $34 million in revenue over the last two decades, but that revenue has covered just five percent of the $632 million in Forest Service costs. The difference, equal to $598 million in 2018 dollars, means taxpayers have lost $30 million per year subsidizing Tongass logging.
 

LarryBoy

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Are there proceeds?
Sure there are - $34 million, and that should be earmarked for land and water conservation :D (though I'd appreciate it if you'd cite your source). It's no secret that the Forest Service loses a bunch of amount of money of timber harvests - and I'd argue that, to a certain extent, that's okay. We place certain constraints on government services all the time in a way that impedes their ability to break even - for example, the USPS's universal service mandate is a huge money-loser for them, yet we (except in years where we oddly politicize something as mundane as the Postal Service) gladly pony up a few billion dollars in order to ensure that they serve every American - because that's important to us.

Similarly, I think it's perfectly reasonable to invest money in the Forest Service to ensure that timber harvests are done in accordance with our values (sustainability, scientific management, etc). If you're simply arguing that the amount of money that we sink into it is unreasonable and amounts to a massive subsidy of private industry, I'm certainly open to the suggestion that timber leases should be sold for a lot more than current rates.
 

Reef&Ruins

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Based on all the fires we've had in the West over the last few summers I am getting very interested in learning more about how indigenous people managed fire and putting those ideas into practice. I've seen a few clips here and there over the last few months including one about this being done in Australia.
 

John Morrow

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May 22, 2015
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It's looking highly likely that we'll be getting a new president and cabinet. \o/ If you were Biden, what would you prioritize from a public lands and environment standpoint?

My list (not in a any particular order)
1. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and lay the groundwork for a transition to alternative energy.
2. Restore the original GSENM and BENM boundaries.
3. Reinstate the protections for Arctic Wildlife Reserve and Tongass National Forest.
4. Restore the Obama clean water rules.
5. Restore EPA regulatory enforcement the Trump admin claimed was an industry hardship during COVID.
6. Reinstate the endangered and threatened species protections rolled back by the Trump admin, and restore the ban on inhumane hunting practices.
7. Restore the NEPA process to its original scope.

You hit all the major things I can think of, Fossana. Pretty sure most or all of these are Exec Orders, so let's hope Biden gets busy quick! And then pressure Congress for full protection after that.
 

Rockskipper

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I
Based on all the fires we've had in the West over the last few summers I am getting very interested in learning more about how indigenous people managed fire and putting those ideas into practice. I've seen a few clips here and there over the last few months including one about this being done in Australia.
This "management" may not be what most people think. Read a few of the accounts by trappers etc. and you'll see that the natives often set things on fire when they felt like it or by accident. One account by Colter says he and some others were camping in the Teton Valley region (W. of the Tetons) with some native guides who started a big forest fire just for the excitement. If anyone can point to some first-hand accounts of this management I would love to read them. This is just my observation based on reading some historical stuff.
 

ImNotDedYet

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One thing I'd like to see the new administration do is develop new, monument-like management plans for the areas formerly covered by Bears Ears and GSENM, but keep the current formal boundaries as-is until the legal challenge makes its way to the Supreme Court. I think it's important to establish the precedent that a President's delegated power under the Antiquities Act is one-way - only to protect, not to un-protect. Otherwise the next administration could very well revert the boundaries once more, and we'd end up playing pointless ping-pong with public land protections.

I agree this would be beneficial, however I question whether the updated Supreme Court would tend to agree that with this? And in the meantime, as 85% of the original designation of Bears Ears and 50% of GSE no longer receive monument designation and protection - what could companies that have purchased leases do at this point? There were already talks of chaining in parts of Bears Ears regarding the latest management plan - these latest plans need to be overruled until a finalization from the court comes down. And once the decision is made and the hopeful restoration occurs to these monuments, it would be good if the Native American coalition that was originally intended to co-manage Bears Ears was again given co-management authority.

As for things other than have already been listed, something must be done to put a dent into the backlog of items requiring repair in our National Parks. I still find it far too cheap that a year-long pass for a single National Park is $70 (or thereabouts) and a pass for all parks is a mere $10 more. I'd gladly pay a good deal more for that America the Beautiful pass and still get more than my money's worth. A family of four pays $70 to go see a movie in a theatre.

I think a study of a new management plan for forests needs to be considered as well. Adaptation is needed as we continue to see the effects of drought in the west, and the plan we've been running on for the last number of years is obviously not working.
 

LarryBoy

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I agree this would be beneficial, however I question whether the updated Supreme Court would tend to agree that with this? And in the meantime, as 85% of the original designation of Bears Ears and 50% of GSE no longer receive monument designation and protection - what could companies that have purchased leases do at this point? There were already talks of chaining in parts of Bears Ears regarding the latest management plan - these latest plans need to be overruled until a finalization from the court comes down. And once the decision is made and the hopeful restoration occurs to these monuments, it would be good if the Native American coalition that was originally intended to co-manage Bears Ears was again given co-management authority.

I think you and I are mostly on the same page here. That's why I caveated that the lands be managed with monument-like priorities. The idea is to protect the lands immediately, via executive action, but formally keep them at their current (reduced) size so the legal system would work itself out. From the legal angle, even if the reductions hold up in court, that's at least important precedent so we know what "the rules of the game" are going forward. Particularly when it comes to public lands, where neglect and ambiguity can easily lead to misuse, it's better for everybody that we have clarity on what the law means.

You pointed out that the court's new composition plays into it, and while I don't disagree, my mostly uninformed opinion is that the originalist bent that many of the justices hold might make it less likely for them to uphold the reductions. But I'm no constitutional lawyer.
 

Rockskipper

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I personally think all public lands of any status should be free and the funds for managing them come from taxes. I know folks who can't afford to even take their families to the nearby national park, and with the pandemic, more people are struggling than ever. Public lands do belong to all of us, after all, but I agree they need funding. And people should have to wear collars that shock them when they throw out trash or step on the crypto. :)
 

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
Messages
463
Sure there are - $34 million, and that should be earmarked for land and water conservation :D (though I'd appreciate it if you'd cite your source). It's no secret that the Forest Service loses a bunch of amount of money of timber harvests - and I'd argue that, to a certain extent, that's okay. We place certain constraints on government services all the time in a way that impedes their ability to break even - for example, the USPS's universal service mandate is a huge money-loser for them, yet we (except in years where we oddly politicize something as mundane as the Postal Service) gladly pony up a few billion dollars in order to ensure that they serve every American - because that's important to us.

Similarly, I think it's perfectly reasonable to invest money in the Forest Service to ensure that timber harvests are done in accordance with our values (sustainability, scientific management, etc). If you're simply arguing that the amount of money that we sink into it is unreasonable and amounts to a massive subsidy of private industry, I'm certainly open to the suggestion that timber leases should be sold for a lot more than current rates.

Forgot. Here you go: https://www.taxpayer.net/energy-nat...n-tongass-timber-sales-over-last-two-decades/
 

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
Messages
463
I agree this would be beneficial, however I question whether the updated Supreme Court would tend to agree that with this? And in the meantime, as 85% of the original designation of Bears Ears and 50% of GSE no longer receive monument designation and protection - what could companies that have purchased leases do at this point? There were already talks of chaining in parts of Bears Ears regarding the latest management plan - these latest plans need to be overruled until a finalization from the court comes down. And once the decision is made and the hopeful restoration occurs to these monuments, it would be good if the Native American coalition that was originally intended to co-manage Bears Ears was again given co-management authority.

I suspect a number of those companies bought up leases for the prospect of getting paid out,
as what happened when the original GSENM was established, versus actually extracting fossil fuels.
 

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