Legislative and Regulatory Update
June 2001 by Staff
• Bush lets Roadless Rule take effect while promising changes
Clinton’s Roadless Rule that banned new road-building in 58.8 million acres of national forests will stand for now, but will be revised according to the Bush administration. The rule was allowed to take effect on May 12, but Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said the Bush administration wants to revise it because of what she called a “lack of local input.” The Agriculture Department, which oversees the Forest Service, said it hoped to have new regulations ready in a matter of months.
In April 2001, a federal judge in Boise agreed with the state of Idaho that the Forest Service violated public disclosure requirements before approving the initiative. But U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge declined to issue an order prohibiting the policy from being enacted and said he would decide that question after the Bush administration had a chance to decide what to do with the plan.
• USFS seeks comments for Utah forest
A USFS plan has been developed for managing the 1.2 million-acre Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. During the summer, the Forest Service will hold a series of public meetings on the plan, which includes six alternatives for managing the land during the next 10-15 years.
The first public meeting is scheduled for June 19 at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City. The draft plan and environmental impact statement are available on the Internet at: www.fs.fed.us/wcnf
• A bold move by a small town
Few people are aware of agreements and treaties that have been negotiated between the US and United Nations. The United Nations has a list of “protected areas” in countless locations throughout the world, and the US is no exception. With the goal of preventing development and restricting use, the United Nations has focused on these protected areas.
Property rights advocates in the US are beginning to take decisive action to prevent the United Nations from having “undue influence” on property rights here in the states. One such place is Lincoln County, New Mexico.
The Lincoln National Forest has made it onto the United Nations list of protected areas, and it seems the citizens and local government aren’t too happy about it.
Lincoln County is taking the lead role in this battle for local control. The “UN Free County of Lincoln Ordinance” is being considered by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.
The proposed ordinance declares that the county “...shall be governed entirely by the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution, and Its Amendments, as intended and set forth by our Founding Fathers.”
Among the points outlined, the ordinance states as its purpose, “To oppose the United Nations’ charter as an illegitimate and unconstitutional charter having no standing in any United States Court. To recognize no executive, legislative or judicial power within the boundaries of the County other than those powers duly constituted by the People in the Constitution of the State and by the Peoples of the several States in the United States Constitution.”
The proposed ordinance goes even further, stating the county will “...refuse any and all United Nations funded programs, studies, or other activities within the county...[and] prohibit the investment of any County funds in any business, government agency or other entity, which supports or cooperates with the Untied Nations.”
Violations of the proposed ordinance would carry a punishment of up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. The ordinance has been approved by the Public Land Use Advisory Committee and the Rural and Agricultural Committee. It’s now awaiting review by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.
Visit www.unep-wcmc.org to see if your city or county has been labeled a “protected area” by the United Nations. Thanks to Public Lands for the People (PLP) for this news item.
• Forest Service wants to encourage return of Canada lynx
Munising, Michigan (AP)—The U.S. Forest Service is hoping to bring back the threatened Canada lynx by restoring its habitat in the Upper Peninsula’s Hiawatha National Forest.
The forest service will hold meetings this summer to see if the public supports the habitat protection measures, with a decision expected in late fall.
The lynx was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species in the lower 48 states last year. None of the big cats have been documented in the Hiawatha area for several years.
It is unknown how many lynx exist in the United States, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
• Update on Oregon’s Measure 7
In our February 2001 issue we reported on Oregon’s Measure 7, a landmark measure passed by a majority of Oregonians in support of compensation for land-use restrictions.
A temporary injunction was issued by Circuit Court Judge Paul Lipscomb that temporarily halted the measure while a lawsuit winds its way through the courts. The Oregon Court of Appeals is deciding whether two additional landowners should be allowed to intervene and defend Measure 7. It will likely take quite some time before a decision is made in the case.
In the meantime, activity is also occurring at the Oregon legislature. Although there has been no legislation introduced to amend or modify Measure 7, an unofficial work group has been formed to look at Measure 7 with the goal of crafting legislation for future implementation. A number of cities and counties adopted local rules to create a claims process for landowners who want to make a Measure 7 claim. Unfortunately, no two local rules were the same, and many of the local rules were not designed to provide a process, but were instead designed to make it very costly and very difficult, if not impossible, for a landowner to get compensation or removal of a regulation.
Dave Hunnicutt, Director of Legal Affairs for Oregonians In Action, is part of the unofficial work group. “We are trying to craft a bill to take to the Oregon Legislature that would set out a uniform and fair statewide process for making Measure 7 claims,” said Hunnicutt. “What we are trying to do is to make sure that landowners who have Measure 7 claims are not subject to excessive costs, hurdles and barriers to make their claims. The best way to do that is to establish statewide standards, that will be applied in every city and county in the state. That should stop efforts by the more aggressive cities and counties to block or limit Measure 7 claims.”
According to Hunnicutt, it is too early to tell if anything else will occur at the legislature.
“Rumors are flying all over the capitol,” said Hunnicutt. “It’s hard to tell which are true and which aren’t. Leaders in both the House of Representatives and Oregon Senate, however, have indicated to me that they will not allow any legislation to be passed that will weaken the protections which the voters adopted for themselves with Measure 7. I appreciate the support we have been getting from Senators Derfler and Nelson and Representatives Simmons and Minnis.”
Whatever the ultimate outcome, Hunnicutt expects a battle. “We knew going in that getting Measure 7 passed would only be half the battle. Anytime you have opposition that is well funded and organized by the extreme environmental community, you are going to have a fight. I don’t expect the other side to ever give up, regardless of what the public says.”
On the Internet: Oregonians in Action, http://oia.org
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