BLM Colorado: Public Has No Need to Know About Public Lands, Public Monies, Public Employees

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a show of arrogance that has become too typical of the Colorado State Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the agency is ignoring a Federal judge, media requests, stakeholders, and the public in denying public information about public activities on the public lands, according to the Durango Herald:

“This isn’t a widespread issue of public concern. It is primarily press that are concerned about oil and gas leasing and activists that are opposed to oil and gas leasing.”

The state 'Communications Director', one might assume, has the job as a public employee working on public lands issues and spending public monies, of informing the public and managing media relations.  The 'press' and public are–this common-sense assumption goes–the PRIMARY purpose of his receiving a Federal salary as a taxpayer-funded public employee.

But apparently not for BLM Colorado–where public information is no such thing, and the public and media are merely distractions from what ever other self-determined more important things, like defending illegal agency actions perhaps, or intentionally seeking to divide communities

Colorado's North Fork Standing Up

This particular matter has its roots in the BLM Colorado State Office's reckless oil and gas leasing policy that willfully ignores local communities, other federal agencies, state wildlife officials, local businesses and the public, to lease whatever public lands secret industry representatives nominate.  This is despite Colorado having the oldest land use plans in the Mountain West, many dating back to the 1980s–like that that governs the public lands in the North Fork–most of which fail completely to properly account for, describe, consider or protect the resources and uses that exist or depend upon these lands today. 

Citizens for a Healthy Community–a Delta County based conservation group–partnered with the Western Environmental Law Center to file lawsuit seeking the names of the nominators who put forward the contentious leases in that valley.  They won that suit. 

Here is what the judge wrote:

“Competition in bidding advances the purpose of getting a fair price for a lease of publicly owned minerals,” Matsch wrote. “Moreover, the identity of the submitter may be relevant to the plaintiff and others who may raise concerns about the stewardship records of that potential owner, a factor relevant to the environmental impact of the proposed sale.”

So, a Federal judge acknowledges that sharing information on public lands and public minerals is in the public interest and orders the public employees at a public agency to release that (public) information. 

And the senior staff at BLM Colorado Office responds, to paraphrase: Make us (again). 

Following the judge's decision and the BLM Colorado's clear loss in court, others–including the Durango Herald–have now sought identical information regarding contentious leases in their communities.  Such as those surrounding Mesa Verde National Park opposed by the BLM's own sister agency in the Department of Interior, the National Park Service.

Now, the Colorado State Office of the BLM, our public employees spending our public monies to manage our public lands and minerals, is refusing to release that information. Again.  Because, apparently its Communications Director has better things to do than communicate. 

Maybe like spending more time in court defending the indefensible, losing more lawsuits, and greasing the skids for oil and gas in violation of what the Federal courts have found to be in the public's interest. 


5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ClubTwitty says:

    Despite Communication Dir Steven Hall's claim, anyone with integrity would have to acknowledge that its not just a small number of folks on some fringe paying attention to, and concerned about, oil and gas drilling, and leasing on public lands.

    CHC, WELC and 27 local, state and national organizations joined a letter calling on the BLM to end its policy of secrecy, so its not just a few 'activists' on that note either.  Anyone with integrity would not deny what is in front of all our faces. 


  2. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Speaking of BLM they have just made a terrible decision concerning the Thompson Divide in favor of, surprise, Big Oil and Gas.

    Please check out 5th generation Crystal River Valley rancher, Jason Sewell's Guest Commentary in the Denver Post for the whole story and, if it moves you as it did me, let Sen. Michael Bennet know you support his bill to preserve the Thompson Divide for its irreplaceable value to the remaining ranchers, farmers, mountain bikers, sportsmen, outfitters and small businesses of all kinds that rely on this precious resource to the tune of nearly 300 jobs and 30 million for the local sustainable economy.  Please ask Sen. Udall, not yet signed on, to co-sponsor . 

    Sewell says this has the support of a broad coalition of  local community interests and I wouldn't know for a fact but if Jason is like most of the area ranchers he's more likely a pretty conservative Republican than what our rightie friends would describe as a liberal tree hugger so this isn't about left and right. He describes this as clearing the way for a compromise solution that protects the Thompson Divide and preserves private property rights.

    Bennet's bill is:

    S 651  The Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act of  2013.

    Folks, there's not much left of the old ways of life along in the Roaring Fork and Crystal . The ranchers, the rural atmosphere and the great natural places to  enjoy that are left to us there are a treasure and sustainable economic boon that can't be replaced once they're gone.

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