Resistance: Public Lands Defense in the Age of Trump

2017 marked the beginning of a dangerous new era for anti-public lands behavior in the federal government. CalWild and its partners are united in facing the increasing number of threats coming from Congress and the Trump administration, and we’ll be tracking our resistance to these policies here.

President Trump has staffed his cabinet with pro-industry bureaucrats and executives from powerful corporations like ExxonMobil, avidly neglecting the health of our natural resources and our local communities in the process. These appointments will make our job that much harder in the coming years, as well as making it that much more important that we engage everyone who is opposed to them and the policies they stand for.

Luckily, we know that the majority of Americans support public lands and wilderness areas, and that grassroots activism can generate real change at the federal level, even against the toughest odds.

Bill Tracker

  • HR 23 – Gaining Responsibility on Water Act
    • Fast-tracks construction of the Temperance Flat Dam, which would drown the San Joaquin River which is recommended for Wild & Scenic protection by the BLM, as well as inundate a couple thousand acres of lands with wilderness characteristics. Reduces water deliveries to federal and state wildlife refuges in the Central Valley, increases pumping of water from the Delta, eliminates the San Joaquin River Salmon Restoration Program, and weakens the Endangered Species Act.
    • Sponsors: Valadao (CA), Nunes (CA), Rohrabacher (CA), Cook (CA), Issa (CA), Royce (CA), Walters (CA), Calvert (CA), Knight (CA), McCarthy (CA), Hunter (CA), LaMalfa (CA), McClintock (CA), Costa (CA), Denham (CA)
    • Movement:
      • Received in the Senate and referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 7/18/17
      • Passed/agreed to in House (230 to 190) 7/12/17
      • Numerous actions, hearings and amendments have taken place since introduction on 1/3/17
  • HR 232 – State National Forest Management Act
    • Would require the Forest Service to convey to a state up to 2 million acres of “eligible” portions of forest service lands that it elects to acquire through state legislation. Those lands would be administered and managed primarily for timber production.
    • Sponsors: Young (AK)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources 2/10/17
  • HR 621 – Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act
    • (Does not directly affect federal land in CA)  This bill directs the Department of the Interior to offer for disposal federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.  There has been talk that Chaffetz withdrew this bill but it is still showing up as active legislation on the Congress.gov website.
    • Sponsors: Chaffetz (UT – now retired)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Federal Lands 2/10/17
  • HR 622 – Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act
    • An absurd attempt by Rep. Chaffetz to terminate all Forest Service and BLM law enforcement. Declares that, by September 30, 2017, USDA and BLM shall terminate all of their Law Enforcement and Investigations officers and stop using those employees to perform law enforcement functions on federal lands. Those responsibilities would be handed over to local law enforcement.
    • Sponsors: Chaffetz (UT – now retired), Stewart (UT – who became the new sponsor on 7/11/17), Love (UT), LaMalfa (CA), Amodei (NV), McClintock (CA), Gosar (AZ)
    • Movement
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry 2/13/17
    • Take action on this bill NOW.
  • HR 1106 – Small Tracts Conveyance Act
    • Would require BLM and the Forest Service to select eligible federal lands parcels for conveyance: (1) in response to a request by an adjacent landholder or (2) upon the recommendation of the BLM District Office or NFS unit that exercises administration over such parcel. This bill would also require BLM and the FS to give notice to the adjacent landowners that they had this right. A conveyed eligible parcel would not be allowed to exceed 160 acres unless the BLM or the Forest Service approves a request for additional acreage. An adjacent landholder can only acquire one eligible parcel per year, but that is also subject to an exception.
    • Sponsors: Amodei (NV)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry 3/10/17
  • HR 1349 – To amend the Wilderness Act to ensure that the use of bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, and game carts is not prohibited in Wilderness Areas, and for other purposes
    • Would allow the use of non-motorized bicycles, motorized or non-motorized wheelchairs (already allowed in wilderness), strollers, wheelbarrows, survey wheels, and game carts in wilderness.
    • Sponsors: McClintock (CA), Hunter (CA), Westerman (AR), Pearce (NM)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Federal Lands 3/15/17
  • HR 1489 – MAST Act
    • Would require congressional approval of national monuments, make it more difficult for a president to declare a national marine monument, and more difficult for BLM or the Forest Service to implement management plans for national monuments that are located within exclusive economic zones.
    • Sponsors: Young (AK)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans 3/20/17
  • HR 2074 – Public Input for National Monuments Act
    • Would require compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as a condition of designation of national monuments.
    • Sponsors: Walden (OR)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Federal Lands 4/24/17
  • HR 2167 – Acre In, Acre Out Act
    • Gives a new requirement for any acquisition of land by DOI or USDA that would result in a net increase of total land acreage that are under the jurisdiction of NPS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the BLM or Forest Service.  The department concerned must offer for sale an equal number of acres of federal land that is under the same jurisdictional status.
    • Sponsors: Morgan (VA),  LaMalfa (CA), Gosar (AZ), Garrett (VA)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry 5/4/17
  • HR 2284 – National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act
    • Would require congressional and State approval of national monuments and put additional restrictions on the use of national monuments.
    • Sponsors: Labrador (ID), Pearce (NM), Hice (GA), LaMalfa (CA)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee on Federal Lands 5/11/17
  • HR 2613 – Fostering Opportunities for Resources and Education Spending through Timber Sales (FORESTS) Act of 2017
    • Directs the Department of Agriculture to establish at least one Forest Active Management Area within each unit of the National Forest System designated for “sustainable” forest management for the production of national forest materials (trees, portions of trees, or forest products) and forest active management revenues (derived from the sale of such materials). The bill says its purpose is to provide a dependable source of: payments to states in which a national forest is situated of 25% of specified forest receipts, to be used for the benefit of public schools and public roads; and economic activity through sustainable forest management for each beneficiary county containing NFS land included within that Area. Forest active management revenues would be used pay: the 25% payments to states for payment to beneficiary counties for the benefit of public schools and public roads; and deposits into the Knutson-Vandenburg Fund and the salvage sale fund for projects on NFS land.
    • Sponsors: McMorris Rodgers (WA)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry 6/8/17
  • HR 2661 – State Mineral Revenue Protection Act
    • Would amend the Mineral Leasing Act to require the Secretary of the Interior to convey to a State all right, title, and interest in and to a percentage of the amount of royalties and other amounts required to be paid to the State under that Act with respect to public land and deposits in the State
    • Sponsors: Cheney (WY), Pearce (NM), Lujan Grisham (NM), Lujan (NM)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources 6/8/17
  • HR 2907 – Planning for American Energy Act of 2017
    • Would amend the Mineral Leasing Act to require the Secretary of the Interior to develop and publish a quadrennial federal onshore energy production strategy to meet domestic energy needs. The Secretary would be required to include a domestic strategic production objective for development of energy resources on federal onshore lands.
    • Sponsors: Tipton (CO)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources 6/23/17
      • Referred to HNR Subcommittee 6/15/17
  • HR 2936 – Resilient Federal Forests Act
    • Would create numerous new “categorical exclusions” (CE) from the public participation and environmental analysis requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The CEs would apply to both Forest Service and BLM lands. Would “expedite” the NEPA process for salvage logging and reforestation activities after large-scale wildfires or other natural disturbances. Would get rid of opportunities for judicial review in several ways by eliminating or constraining the ability of citizens to challenge federal forest management decisions in court. Would significantly weaken the interagency consultation requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
    • Includes convoluted language about roadless area management that could be interpreted to eliminate current regulatory protection of Inventoried Roadless Areas under the national Roadless Area Conservation Rule and the Idaho and Colorado roadless rules.
    • Would make several changes in the Secure Rural Schools Title II program that aim to shift the program’s emphasis and funding from environmental restoration to timber production. Would also shrink the size of RACs from 15 members to just 9 members, change the approval process from super-majority to simple majority rule, and limit RAC membership to local residents. Would add procedural hoops to road decommissioning, it would allow the logging of old-growth forests in Oregon and Washington, and would roll back the management of federally protected lands in northern California and western Oregon, including the Cascade–Siskiyou National Monument.  Officials would manage the lands pursuant to the Oregon and California Lands Act of 1937.  The nearly 87,000 acres of Cascade–Siskiyou forest would lose all protections imparted by President Clinton’s national monument designation in 2000, and President Obama’s subsequent expansion in 2017.
    • Sponsors: Westerman (AR), Nolan (MN), Tipton (CO), Labrador (ID), McClintock (CA), Peterson (MN), McMorris Rodgers (WA), Thompson (PA), Stewart (UT)
    • Movement:
      • Passed the Natural Resources Committee (Yeas 23, Nays 12) on 6/27/17
      • Referred to the Committee on Agriculture, and Committees on Natural Resources, Education and the Workforce, and Transportation and Infrastructure on 6/20/17
  • HR 2950 – Making Public Lands Public Act
    • Would require Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture to use not less than, the grater of 3 percent or 10 million dollars of the amount appropriated to the Land and Water Conservation Fund each year on certain “priority public access projects”.  Those “priority” projects are required to either: maintain or increase public access to existing federal public land for hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting through acquisition of rights-of-way or acquisition of land (or any interest in land) through equal value land exchanges from willing owners; or enhance, maintain, or restore access on existing roads, trails, or rights-of-way
    • Sponsors: Pearce (NM)
    • Movement: Referred to Subcommittee on Federal Lands 6/29/17
  • HR 3117 (Senate version S.1512) – Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act of 2017
    • Would prohibit the Secretary of Energy, the Administrator of the EPA, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Chair of CEQ from considering the social cost of carbon, the social cost of methane, or the social cost of nitrous oxide, in taking any action.
    • Sponsors: Jenkins (WV), Cramer (ND), Mooney (WV), Olson (TX), Gosar (AZ), Cole (OK), Bishop (UT), Griffith (VA), Flores (TX), LaHood (IL), Womack (AR), Mullin (OK), McKinley (WV), Culberson (TX)
    • Movement:
      • Subcommittee hearings held 7/27/17
      • Referred to Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources 7/17/17
      • Referred to Subcommittee on Environment 6/30/17
      • Referred to Committee on Energy and Commerce and Committee on Natural Resources 6/29/17
  • HR 3131 – Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act 
    • Modifies the ESA in an attempt to make it harder for litigants to have the court award them their court expenses. The current language says, “The court, in issuing any final order…may award costs of litigation (including reasonable attorney and expert witness fees) to any party, whenever the court determines such award is appropriate.” Would modify “any party” and replace it with “any prevailing party.” This change could save the federal government money but would likely have the effect of reducing the number of people/organizations that decided to file suit under the ESA due to the uncertainty of getting attorney fees and expert witness fees.
    • Sponsors: Huizenga (MI), LaMalfa (CA), Pearce (NM), Thompson (PA), Jones (NC), Tipton (CO), Gosar (AZ), Luetkemeyer (MO), Cole (OK), Cramer (ND)
    • Movement:
      • NR hearings held 7/19/17
      • Referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on the Judiciary 6/29/17
  • HR 3270 (Senate version S.468) – Historic Routes Preservation Act
    • (See explanation of bill with Senate Version)
    • Sponsors: Cook (CA), O’Halleran (AZ)
    • Movement:
      • Introduced and referred to House Committee on Natural Resources 7/17/17
  • HR 3333 – HEARD Act
    • This bill authorizes the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to dispose of federal lands under their respective jurisdictions by offering them for sale or exchange to units of local government in accordance with this bill.
    • Sponsors: Gosar (AZ), Amodei (NV), Franks (AZ), Schweikert (AZ), Sessions (TX), Young (AK)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Agriculture 7/20/17
  • HR 3543 – Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act of 2017
    • Text not available yet.  Name of the Act appears to be innocuous, but the sponsors suggest otherwise.
    • Sponsors: Stewart (UT), Tipton (CO)
    • Movement:
      • Introduced and referred to House Committee on Natural Resources 7/28/17
  • HR 3565 – Federal Land Freedom Act
    • No text available
    • Sponsors: Black (TN), Duncan (TN), Blackburn (TN), Roe (TN), Duncan (SC), Gosar (AZ), Stewart (UT), Sessions (TX), Kustoff (TN), Fleischmann (TN)
    • Movement:
      • Introduced and referred to HNR Committee on 7/28/17
  • HR 3593 – Securing Our Borders and Wilderness Act
    • Text not yet available, but given the two CA sponsors it will likely be worse than the name suggests.
    • Sponsors: Johnson (LA)
    • Movement:
      • Introduced and referred to Committees on Natural Resources and Homeland Security 7/28/17
  • S.33 – Improved National Monument Designation Process Act
    • Before a national monument could be designated, the President would have to obtain congressional approval, certify compliance with NEPA and receive notice from the governor of the state in which the monument is to be located, that the state legislature has enacted legislation approving its designation.
    • Author: Sen. Murkowski [R-AK]
    • Sponsors: Murkowski (AK), Sullivan (AK), Daines (MT), Hatch (UT), Heller (NV), Flake (AZ), Lee (UT), McCain (AZ), Risch (ID), Grassley (IA), Tillis (NC), McConnell (KY), Blunt (MO), Inhofe (OK), Johnson (WI), Cruz (TX), Capito (WV), Wicker (MS), Rubio (FL), Cassidy (LA), Crapo (ID), Roberts (KS), Cochran (MS), Rounds (SD), Barrasso (WY), Lankford (OK), Fischer (NE)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 1/5/17
  • S.132 – National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act
    • Would require the President, before a national monument can be designated, to obtain congressional approval, certify compliance with NEPA, and determine that the state in which the monument is to be located has enacted legislation approving its designation.
    • Sponsors: Crapo (ID), Lee (UT), Risch (ID), Rubio (FL), Hatch (UT), Inhofe (OK)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 1/12/17
  • S.335 – Federal Land Freedom Act of 2017
    • Would give states the right to control the development and production of all forms of energy on all available Federal land.
    • Sponsors: Inhofe (OK), Rubio (FL), Cruz (TX), Lankford (OK), Crapo (ID), Capito (WV), Hatch (UT), Lee (UT)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 2/7/17
  • S.468 (House verison HR 3270)– Historic Routes Preservation Act
    • Would allow any state, county, political subdivision or agency of a state, company, or other person that asserts public acceptance of a right-of-way granted for the construction of highways over public lands to file a claim (or notice of intent to file suit) within the 25-year period beginning on the date of enactment of the bill. Overwrites longstanding state and federal case law concerning the nature, validity, and scope of RS 2477 rights-of-way, allowing claimants to gain title to untold thousands of rights-of-way across public lands regardless of their validity under RS 2477. RS 2477 was enacted in 1866 to grant rights-of-way across federal lands to prospectors and Homesteaders. Congress repealed RS 2477 in 1976 when it passed FLPMA, but provided that valid existing rights established prior to FLPMA’s enactment would be recognized if the terms of the grant were met.
    • Opponents of FLPMA began using RS 2477—just one of a slew of right-of-way grants—to claim faded two-tracks, cow paths, and wash bottoms as “highways” that, if developed, could disqualify lands from wilderness eligibility and other protections. The vast majority of claims—unimproved dirt roads and trails—do not serve any public purpose.  S. 468 seeks to validate these spurious claims and many thousands more across the West by drastically lowering evidentiary burdens and fundamentally redefining the law surrounding RS 2477.
    • True purpose of the bill is not to streamline RS 2477 claims but to rubberstamp them, and in so doing undermine the protection of the American West’s most pristine public lands. S. 468
      specifically allows claims in wilderness study areas, areas of critical environmental concern, and lands with wilderness characteristics.
    • Sponsors: Flake (AZ), Hatch (UT), Heller (NV), McCain (AZ)
    • Movement:
      • Hearing held by Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining 7/26/17
  • S.1512 – Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act of 2017
    • Senate version of HR 3117
    • Sponsors: Lankford (OK), Capito (WV), Blunt (MO), Barrasso (WY), Inhofe (OK), Cornyn (TX), Cotton (AR)
    • Movement:
      • Referred to Committee on Environment and Public Works 6/29/17
  • S.1514 – HELP for Wildlife Act
    • Bill supported mostly by Republicans which makes it suspect.  CalWild’s review and analysis is not yet complete to determine whether or not it should remain on this list.
    • Sponsors: Barrasso (WY), Kennedy (LA), Inhofe (OK), Johnson (WI), King (ME), Enzi (WY), Baldwin (WI), Capito (WV), Klobuchar (MN), Boozman (AR), Cardin (MD)
    • Movement:
      • Committee on EPW:  ordered to be reported with amendments favorably 7/26/17
      • Hearing held 7/19/17
      • Referred to Committee on Environment and Public Works 6/29/17

Executive Orders

  • 4/26/17: Executive Order 13792 – Review of Certain National Monuments Designated Since 1996
    • The administration and Congress have been increasingly interested in rescinding recent National Monument designations, specifically those of Bears Ears (UT), Katahdin Woods and Waters (ME), and Cascade-Siskiyou (OR/CA) – the latter of which CalWild helped expand in President Obama’s final week in office. California’s most recent Monuments, including Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, San Gabriel Mountains, Cascade-Siskiyou, and Berryessa-Snow Mountain, are vulnerable to any revocation or reduction attempts. Additionally, Carrizo Plain and Giant Sequoia also face review.
    • No President has ever revoked a National Monument before, and legal experts are confident that even an attempt is illegal if not foolhardy, time-consuming, and most certainly litigious and a drain of public resources.
    • Movement:
      • 6/26/17: Thanks to our D.C. ears and eyes, we were alerted to this with enough time to coordinate in a big way with our allies across California and the country, sending a loud message to D.C. that the public does not support this review.
      • May-July 2017: Events held throughout California in support of our 7 Monuments under threat while CalWild and its partners spread our action alerts generating comments
      • 6/12/17: Secretary Zinke recommended that Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be shrunk but did not quantify the new proposed size. This is an alarming beginning to the recommendation process and could set a precedent for further recommendations.
      • 6/10/17: Pubic comment process closes
      • 6/11/17: During the public comment process, CalWild supporters submitted 1,621 comments to the DOI amongst the 2.7 million comments received in total (98% of the those were in support of maintaining or expanding National Monuments across the country)
      • 6/12/17: Secretary Zinke announces that the DOI will not seek changes to the Hanford Reach and Craters of the Moon monuments in Washington and Idaho, underscoring a likely attempt to change the remaining 25 monuments under review in the coming weeks. Announced a mere 2 days after the comments session was closed – hardly enough time to read a fraction of that 2.7 million comments – this move reveals just how arbitrary the decision-making is at the current DOI.
      • 8/24/17: Expected reommendations from Secretary Zinke

Other Threats

  • 3/14/17: Bishop’s Budget Request for Public Lands Transfers
    • Rep. Rob Bishop [R-UT] is trying to use the House budgetary process to earmark $50 million dollars (not coincidentally, the annual budget of the National Conservation Lands) to make easier the transfer of public lands and wilderness areas to the states, a long-lived fantasy of extremist Republicans that seems downright plausible under President Trump and the 115th Congress.
    • Take action on this NOW.
  • 3/8/17: Planning 2.0 is overturned
    • Despite our actions, Conservatives used the Congressional Review Act to overturn a progressive new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policy dubbed “Planning 2.0,” which would have increased public input for land management decisions for that federal department.
    • Read more about Planning 2.0 here.
  • 1/5/17: The House paves the way for public lands transfers and sales

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