In this week’s western view, Len Wilcox tells us more about the protests happening in Oregon.
The protest in Oregon is playing itself out, in sadly predictable ways. One of the visiting militiamen has been killed. A few men remain holed up, and the FBI is waiting patiently, at least for now.
However all that plays out, and how much prison time the protesters end up with, we expect that the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) will take a hard look at its relationships with land users and see how to improve them.
My own experience with BLM, while limited, has always been positive. I know their task is a very difficult one. They manage our public lands – the unclaimed, unsold, and usually low value lands that lie between the cities of the west. It is the BLM’s job to manage it according to the mandates of Congress and the will of the people. They balance the needs of ranchers, miners, environmentalists, hikers, off-road enthusiasts, and every voter in the country. Can you imagine a more impossible job? They will never please everyone, and sometimes while doing what they need to do, they upset everyone involved.
They are the equivalent of the nation’s planning commission. They decide whether an area is allowed to be developed or not, and how it will happen. And the land use could change with time; an area that formerly held cattle might have minerals that need to be mined when that becomes feasible. They make these decisions publicly, with hearings and meetings, and input from all interested parties – but they can’t please everyone. Someone will hate their decision. Some people want to dig a mine, others grow cattle, others ride motorbikes, and some fish and hunt. You can’t do all that on the same plot of land.
The BLM does their job with congress looking over its shoulder and following a strict set of rules. It’s taking care of public land for all of us, not just a few people with a vested interest. Given the mandate they have, they are doing it well.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.