Research and Writing by John Cox, MFA
(Photo John’s Horse Babe)
The BLM, a subordinate agency in the United States Department of the Interior, manages more land than the Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service combined. In fact, BLM manages 270,441,663 acres of land – about 1/8 of the country’s entire land surface – mostly in the West. Despite its size, the BLM’s forestry receives very little attention.
The problem we have, as taxpayers, is the fact the common taxpayer receives little to no benefit whatsoever, despite the overwhelming taxpayer money used in managing multi-use Public Lands. Cattle ranching, oil and gas drilling, logging, and mining apparently receive many benefits from taxpayers, as well as reduction in price for leased Public Lands.
Here I have perused the BLM’s timber sale program which consistently operates at a significant financial loss to American taxpayers. This is just one of many other situations, for example cattle and ranching subsidies develop fiscal losses on yearly basis, reduction in leased land as well as in mining leases also drive the wagons of under responsible fiscal responsibility.
Back to the timber sales program, rather than being an economically self-sufficient program as required by federal law, the agencies public domain for street program fails to offset even the cost of administrating the program. Moreover, the more money budgeted to BLM for logging operations, the higher the fiscal losses.
Worse yet, the agency’s ineffective management is creating massive future indebtedness which dwarfs the programs annual losses as a result of contract liability to convert companies and massive reforestation expenses. There are 5 major timber – producing states that make up the 12-state area that encompasses public domain land. The 5 states are: Idaho, California, Montana, Washington, and Oregon.
The myth, factually, in timber sales, as well as in the Wild Horse and Burro Program, and Grazing Permit Programs on Public Lands, and that the Bureau of Land Management makes any money at all, remains a myth. It is estimated, while perusing financials as well as returns to the Treasury Department, myself and others estimate more than 80% of all National Forest Timber sales programs lose money – the same with the Grazing Permit Programs and the Wild Horse and Burro Program within the USDA Forestry and the Bureau of Land Management.
What this amounts to is that the Bureau of Land Management, and all its programs associated with the multipurpose Public Lands — industries on leased lands, or mining, the financial results are always the same – more money is “going out” of BLM coffers than is “coming in” to repay the government for timber sales or “other” expenses. The BLM’s poor performance proves the theory, that spending other people’s money is no way to run a business. The BLM’s management tools consistently centers around “cover up” and “distract” the public and Congress from this reality.
What becomes evident upon review is the fact BLM rarely bothers to compare, in this case example, timber receipts with true sales costs. One can only imagine how they manipulate and browbeat the public in the matters of the “actual costs” of not only the Wild Horse and Burro Program, but the subsidy-driven program within the Grazing Permit Program. This is because the agencies costs derived from tax dollars — not from its annual or actual receipts. The BLM, for example, reports sales prices as receipts – despite the fact that defaults and inflation mean that actual receipts are usually less than prices, and fiscal returns to the Federal Treasury are even lower.
I do not find Public Domain Programs ever having neither appropriate resources, nor management ideologies, and certainly not personnel skills, to fully reinforce its Public Lands Values. Interesting that I found there are tens of thousands of additional acres of forest land not identified officially, that was forested and timber sales conducted. The land simply forgotten – so I asked about this from several Retired DOI/BLM Lands Managers. All had the same story — they had lands in their region to manage, yet never seen by them; some, were only seen once or twice, in their average job-periods of 20 years or more.
Often, some of the corrupt-lands managers see this remote land unused, in particular in remote areas, and suddenly we see cattle-grazing on some of the overgrown grass on the land, even though it was supposedly Reforested, as BLM paperwork-only, attested. But in truth, no reforestation occurred what so ever – and the cattle further destroyed the land –
This is troubling because sustainability is then neutralized, or the land destroyed in total and unavailable for future timber harvest or grazing, or for anything. The public then sees more and more Public Lands used for grazing, when indeed grazing should not have been allowed, and the cycle continues, until the land useless, and BLM Lands Managers have to locate new or semi-destroyed Public Lands, for grazing. . . This chain-of-destruction never seems to end.
Up to this point I have not mentioned the extreme prejudice the BLM demonstrates on a consistent basis against, for example Wild Horses, Keystone Predators, and other mid-sized and smaller wildlife, that are not considered for Permit-Hunting on our Multi-Use Lands.
As well, I have seen firsthand the likes of Wild Life Service’s come into areas on our Multi Use Lands, and wipe out all of the small critters or mid-sized critters, in particular, around cattle grazing permit land. What this ultimately does, or the travesty of this situation of short-term thinking or bias thinking, is the fact if there are no small to midsize critters around, yet Keystone predators in the same areas, problems develop; thereby. it takes no imagination to acknowledge attacks to livestock, or the domestic animals around housing developments or on ranches, will occur. So once again we see the DOI/BLM mismanage our Wildlife and our Public Lands – which can no longer, in reality, be termed Multi-Use, whatsoever.
Conclusively, many of us see the Bureau of land management and its programs as an unnecessary element within our government. This is because of a level of incompetence as well as irresponsibility, and the amount of corruption that we find weekly, is simply extremely expensive for taxpayers. Just the fiscal responsibility alone, and their ineptitude, shouts loudly to all who look into this, that the BLM needs to be shut down.
Myself and others recommend that other government agencies, that can develop a fiscal responsible situation, and be responsible for taxpayer money spent appropriately, take over the programs that for some reason or another – conflicts with responsible conduct and an overwhelming number of conflict-of-interest situations – and rid at least within a small virtue of responsibility, our nation of a very corrupt government agency.
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