Summer is here and some of you that I’ve talked to are really feeling the heat! When I hear the temperatures reported in the Southwest it makes me glad that I live in Oregon. We’ve had some hot days here, but I don’t think we’ll have any days over 110 degrees. I’ll put up with the rainy winters and let you folks in the southwest put up with the heat.
One thing we all have to put up with is the elections. Elections are a good thing and I will be voting, but I’m already tired of the campaigning and the TV ads we will be facing for the next four months. This year has been especially…what’s the right word?…interesting! The only thing we know for sure is that the election will result in a new administration that will have its own agenda. Hopefully, public land management will be a part of that agenda and it will include keeping the lands in the public’s hands and helping the BLM move forward with its important multiple use mission. The Director has asked PLF to provide him with the top five priorities to be considered for BLM during the next administration. We appreciate the request and have solicited ideas. We are in the process of tallying the results and will be submitting them to the Director soon. Whoever takes over the reins will certainly have their hands full.
One of the things they will have on their plate is the issue of who should “own” and manage the public’s resources and lands—the federal government, states, or private interests. Of course, PLF will be advocating to keep the lands in public hands, sustainably managed by experienced and well-trained professionals. This will be the theme of our annual meeting in Las Cruces, September 13-16. More information on this meeting can be found in this copy of the Monitor. We hope you will join us and participate in the discussion with the excellent cadre of speakers the organizing committee has put together.
Our colleagues in the BLM, Forest Service and other resource agencies are still faced with the threats of violence from those that do not agree with the way the lands are managed or who is managing them. Reading the rhetoric some of these people put out, it is obvious that many of them don’t have a clue; facts and the truth don’t interest them. I was happy to see that law enforcement has been proactive lately and stopped the recent terrorism attempt on Mount Trumbull. Those arrested in other incidents, including Gold Butte and the Malheur occupation, are still going through the court system; several have plead guilty and are awaiting sentencing and others are awaiting trial.
The PLF continues the path we set out on about four years ago, supporting youth. This past spring we awarded the two $5,000 George Lea Founder’s Scholarships to deserving students looking to advance their education. Morgan Cardiel, a graduate student at New Mexico State University and Sydney White, a junior at West Virginia University are this year’s recipients. More information on Morgan and Sydney can be found in the Monitor. We congratulate them and hope to see them at the meeting in Las Cruces.
The third biennial student congress will take place in Las Cruces just before our annual meeting. This year’s congress will include 21 students from ten colleges across the country. The student congress has proven to be an outstanding opportunity for the students and for the BLM and the PLF. The students get the opportunity to meet and network with colleagues from other schools while they discuss some meaty issues with top experts in resource management and policy. The BLM and the PLF benefit from the fresh perspective and thinking of our next generation of resource managers, and from the products the students produce. This congress does not happen without the work of the organizing committee, dedicated volunteers, and speakers. Thank you to all that are working to make this congress a success.
Prior to our 2015 annual meeting in Phoenix, the mining disaster occurred near Silverton, Colorado that impacted the Animas River and had severe environmental and economic impacts in Colorado and New Mexico. We discussed the overwhelming job the BLM and other Federal agencies have to address this problem and decided to develop a position statement on abandoned mine lands. Eric Janes and George Stone took the lead and worked with others to develop a professional, well-written paper on the Herculean task BLM has to address this issue. Like many BLM issues, it cannot be adequately addressed given the limited resources BLM is given. This position statement gives the PLF the basis to support the BLM as they move forward on abandoned mine lands. Thank you, Eric, George, and others that contributed to this statement.
In closing, I hope you all have a fun and safe summer. Remember the folks out on the fireline as it is likely they will have another exhausting season. I hope to see you in Las Cruces in September.