Note to Readers
If you haven’t seen it, below is the Zinke video referred to. Zinke makes several disturbing statements which we’ll discuss later. The focus, now though, is on his proposed reorganization.
Other officials are wondering how Zinke can pull off a massive reorganization based on science after proposing such deep cuts to those very programs. He has also rescinded climate change policies. “The goals of coordination are important, and so, too, are missions of the specific bureaus, and figuring out how to balance those has been at least a three-decade-long proposition across administrations,” said Lynn Scarlett, a former Interior Department deputy secretary and chief operating officer who also served as acting Interior secretary during the George W. Bush administration. Scarlett, who is now global managing director for public policy at the Nature Conservancy, noted that good science is essential “to underpin and inform virtually all the Department of the Interior’s decisionmaking.” Cuts to federal science programs jeopardize the ability of the science to get into the hands of federal decisionmakers, she added. nterior officials have pushed to restructure the agency for decades. Marcia McNutt, who served as former President Obama’s first USGS director, said the idea was floated during her tenure to better align regional bureaus. “It’s not a new idea, and it’s not a bad idea,” she said, adding that Zinke seems to be underselling the biggest benefits of his proposed reorganization. “I haven’t seen climate change being touted as one of the main reasons for this reorganization, and certainly when it was discussed earlier, that was one of the primary motivations for trying to realign all the bureaus to be in sync,” McNutt said. One example was launched under Obama. The 22 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) are at their heart science-based. And they cost just $13 million. Administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the program is aimed at improving conservation efforts across federal, state, tribal and private lands. It was designed to bring partners together across broad regions to improve the resilience of ecosystems and protect species affected by climate change and other threats. President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal zeroed out its funding. “I was interested to see that Zinke’s reorganization highlighted the need to shift to collaborative science, because that already exists through Interior at the Fish and Wildlife Service’s LCCs,” said Anne Carlson, senior climate adaptation specialist with the Wilderness Society. “It feels very much like he’s reinventing the wheel.”…more
In May of last year. the House Committee on Natural Resources issued the following press release
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 3, 2017Today, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Raúl Labrador (R-ID) sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke expressing concerns and requesting information on two climate change adaptation programs established within the Department of the Interior during the Obama administration.The Climate Science Centers (CSCs), which are led by the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), which are principally managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have both been identified as having insufficient internal controls, lacking transparency and potentially funding duplicative research. “Despite a significant federal investment of at least $149 million, their effectiveness, management, and levels of oversight remain serious concerns to the Committee. Since their inception, the CSCs and LCCs have lacked necessary internal controls, failed to develop effective communication policies, and have put taxpayer dollars at risk by acting in contravention of guidelines issued by Interior and the Office of Management and Budget,” the letter states. “Most recently OIG issued a program evaluation in which it found that taxpayer dollars are further imperiled due to the fact that the ‘CSCs and LCCs had no formal process to coordinate the prevention of duplication in research grants…’ In its review, OIG found that the CSCs and LCCs lacked a written policy for coordination, and that the LCCs failed to adequately keep track of their projects in a centralized database that could be utilized and accessed program-wide.”Click here to read the full letter.
The article states Trump’s proposed budget “zeroed out” the funding for the LCCs. However, Congress has continued to fund the CSCs and LCCs, so this may not be much of a threat. And if they were established administratively, they could have been disbanded administratively, and to my knowledge have not been disbanded.
Despite the OIG reports and the concerns expressed by Bishop and Labrador, Zinke appears to base his reorganization on the same concept – ecosystem management. Some will say the Obama LCCs were the first step, and now Zinke proposes to implement the same management scheme in a fashion not even dared by the Obama administration. You will note the enviro reps quoted are critical of budget proposals, but not of the overall concept. Some think this is what they have been after for years.
We will be evaluating all this as more information becomes available. One should not, however, limit their evaluation through the lens of “what is the most scientific way to manage resources.” That has to be overlaid with our form of government. Will this proposed reorganization increase or diminish the role of states in resource management? Will it increase or diminish the role of the feds in resource management? How will this affect the role of Congress in authorizing, oversight and appropriations?
Surely there is a more “scientific” way to pass a budget than what we are currently witnessing, but it is a small price to pay to maintain our representative republic. Our Founding Fathers designed a multitiered system to protect our liberty by restraining government. Their efforts had nothing to do with “scientific” management or efficiency. That’s the lens through which we should evaluate this and other proposals.
A Handbook for Ranch Managers. In keeping with the “holistic” idea that the land, the livestock, the people and the money should be viewed as a single integrated whole: Part I deals with the management of the natural resources. Part II covers livestock production and Part III deals with the people and the money. Not only would this book make an excellent basic text for a university program in Ranch Management, no professional ranch manager’s reference bookshelf should be without it. It is a comprehensive reference manual for managing the working ranch. The information in the appendices and extensive bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.
You might also be interested in the supplement to this Handbook: Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual.