BLM Grazing Regulations Include Doctored Environmental Analysis

The Bureau of Land Management in the United St...
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Reported by the Union of Concerned Scientists

Another “Salazar” Agency Making Up Their Own Rules

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials compromised the integrity of a BLM study by removing scientific concerns about the effects newly relaxed grazing regulations would have on public lands. Millions of acres of public land in the western U. S. are protected by BLM grazing rules, which regulate when, where, and for how long cattle may graze there. 

Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times reported that prior to relaxing Clinton-era restrictions on cattle grazing in June 2004, the BLM edited out portions of an environmental analysis calling into question the environmental sustainability of the new regulations.1 Agency scientists had studied the effects of grazing on wildlife and water quality and expressed concerns.

Cart reported that the BLM eliminated the original draft’s warning that the “the Proposed Action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general.” Instead, the final version of the environmental analysis endorsed the new regulations, which were supported by the cattle industry, stating that the new rules would prove “beneficial to animals.”2

Erick Campbell and Bill Brookes are both recently retired scientists, each with more than 30 years experience at the BLM. Campbell, a biologist, authored the section of the BLM study on the impacts of the rule change on wildlife and endangered species, while Brookes, a hydrologist, evaluated the impact on water resources. Both characterized the edits as an attempt to suppress scientific information. Campbell termed the matter “a whitewash” and “a crime.” “They took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees,” he said. Brookes agreed, adding “Everything I wrote was totally rewritten and watered down.”3  

The BLM argued that the changes resulted from a standard editorial process and issued a statement saying the conclusions reached by Campbell and Brookes were “based on personal opinion and unsubstantiated assertions rather than sound environmental analysis.”4 In an interview Campbell refuted those charges, saying “All the science they extracted from my narrative was peer-reviewed science. This was not gray literature…This was peer-reviewed science in major journals.”5 The concerns of Campbell and Brookes were echoed by wildlife experts at the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and by officials at the Environmental Protection Agency.6 

1. Cart, Julie. “Land Study on Grazing Denounced.” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2005. requires subscription, article available from advocacy website, accessed December 5, 2006.
2. Bureau of Land Management, “Grazing Administration–Exclusive of Alaska; Final Rule,” Department of the Interior, July 12, 2006, accessed December 5, 2006.
3. Cart.
4. Bearden, Tom. “New Grazing Rules.” NewsHour with JimLehrer, August 10, 2005. Transcript online, accessed December 5, 2006.

5. Mitchell, Michele and Breslauer, Brenda. NOW with David Brancaccio, July 22, 2005.  Transcript online, accessed December 5, 2006.

6. Cart, Julie. “Federal Officials Echoed Grazing-Rule Warnings.” Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2005. requires subscription, available online from advocacy site, accessed December 5, 2006.

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25 comments on “BLM Grazing Regulations Include Doctored Environmental Analysis

  1. Again more bold faced lies to try to cover their tracks. One more time that there dishonesty is discovered and one more time that they just give out some innane statement that makes no sense. I know in an article I posted yesterday concerning Salazar dividing the MMS into 3 parts (does that make sense either?) it did state that the President had little power over the blm (paraphrased greatly). I know Darryl Issa Rep from CA is pretty fed up with their doings so I think I will be directing some correspondence his way even tho he is not my rep.


  2. What I see on BLM grazing allotments first hand is the further establishment of cattle based uses and more fencing, gates shut and little or no access by wildlife, especially wild horses and even deer, elk and pronghorn. The rancher’s ability to use BLM incentives to curry land for maximum cattle grazing continues with sage eradication which destroys natural habitat/cover for smaller species by changing the the ecosystem from wild to farm/ranch lands with no attempt to maintain a balanced ecosystem at all. This is also continuing with a small portion of ranchers reaping benefits. Corporate ranching on public lands gets dirtier with these allowances to those who do not have a need for it…. But then, does the public need grazing on public lands??? mar


    • NO – we do not need grazing on public lands at all! It consitutes a minute portion of all gcattle grazing in the USA. Have Salazar give the land he had proposed for the wild horses to the cattle grazers and move the destructive beasts off of our public lands. We may burden the price up front, but be rid of the long term costs of holding horses.

      Welfare ranching was a depression era idea, probably saved many in its day, but has grown to a glutted for profit socialist (now there is an aximoron for you!) scam against the American People. Even in a new depression, heaven forbid, cattle grazing in general has expanded to such an extent that our market does not even need it – beef grazed on USA soil is mostly exported for profits to other countries according to the USDA. So we would certiainly not starve to death!


  3. Please add to the above the proliferation of mining and the heavy uses of water in areas already stressed by low rainfall and desertification. I have seen Barrick and other mines now. These huge operations threaten the ability of anyone to co exist upon the lands and drive out ranchers and cattle and wildlife, wild horses when water becomes polluted. The imbalance of uses in multiple use is truly extreme. Gaining these things from a lie has continued to show BLM has lost sight of any stewardship of our public lands. mar


  4. Please report them to FBI , and DOJ, we need lawsuits against these corrupt liars- anyone who can help me – please contact me .


  5. I encourage everyone to visit the Union of Concerned Scientists web site. There’s a lot of good information, especially on how scientific data has been skewed or ignored when it comes to humanity versus industry.


  6. LISA, I have been trying to catch you. You’re idea of doing an overlay of herds that have been zeroed out and wildfires is so good. That needs to be followed through, somehow.


    • Louie – follow up I have no trouble with; it’s resources I’m having difficulties chasing down.

      I can only find current-year wild fire maps (2010) and HMA maps for years past. What I need is, for example, a wildfire map for 2007 (because 9,328,045 acres burned that year) and the HMA map for the same year. So, far, all internet roads have led me NO WHERE.


      • Lisa, have you tried the State Fire Marshals offices? Especially in California. You will have to fill out paperwork to obtain historical data, as is required now by Homeland Security, but it is easy.

        Please let me konw how this pans out, any difficulties you encounter, I may be able to get some contacts through my old boss in the local fire department, though I don’t think that will be necessary. They may even want to help. They have tried goats and so many things to curb wildfires over the years and I keep hearing stories of them wanting the wild horses o stay, but proof is needed that the horses do contribute to less wild fire.

        I’m trying to get on with a mapping agency here in my area and hope to be able to contribute to mapping one day soon.

        This would be a great project through Herd Watch at The Cloud Foundation.


  7. Great post, but hardly news. Where have we all been and how has this gone on for so long in so many agencies without anyone knowing or caring?

    Maybe the oil spill will be some blessing in disquise, as the stories of the same editing practices become known. It is rampant.


    • I have seen this before. It was one of the many things that came out of the Twisted Science Dept. in the Bush years. Still, this report has been around a while, and has anyone DONE anything about the numerous instances of science being tossed out of reports and recommendations? NO.

      I didn’t expect the Bush administration to change their own policies, but I had hoped for better from Obama. Sigh….


  8. And how many other scientific, peer reviewed reports have been selectively edited across all government agencies? How can ANY legislator or citizen make an informed decision if provable science has been disgarded or altered?

    Noticed PBSers Jim Lehrer & David Brancaccio’s names in the citations. Maybe they would like to update the BLM debacle. It would be great if we could convince them to do a report on the wild ones. Sometimes I think PBS may be the last honest broker of the 4th estate.



    CBS News Airs Wild Horse Footage – Please Ask Them To Tell The Full Story
    Last week the CBS Sunday Morning News aired breathtaking video of wild horses of Nevada. Filmmaker and wild horse advocate Carl Mrozek recently filmed the beautiful, healthy wild mustangs. Click here to watch the video.
    Please post a comment urging CBS News to do a news segment on the wild horse issue. If CBS gets a huge response it may trigger broader coverage of the mustang and burro story. The response over the next several days will be key. This is a great opportunity to make our case directly to CBS producers so please take full advantage of it.


  10. And speaking of grazing allotments – I found this document on Save Our Wild Horses website.

    It’s Nevada-centric, but it shows how grazing allotments enter into HMA’s, but catch a herd of Wild Ones on a grazing allotment??
    But wait!! There are TONS more grazing allotments than there are HMA’s!!
    Is this possible? Could stock animals be allowed to graze in places Wild Ones can’t?
    Shudder at the thought…


  11. Sept 2009, I spoke to Greg Albright of BLM he told me all excess horses where adopted out. I said I herd that the helicopter Company owner was convicted of selling mustangs to slaughter. He said that the case was taken to court and all accusers where lying and that the contractor was found innocent. I later learned the Company owner confessed. Greg Albright was indent on deceiving the public.


    • Do they ever do anything else? Lying for BLM is systemic. If their mouth is moving they are lying. I keep reading of a few good ones. Where?


      • Roxy – if you were the only good guy in an office of, say, 200, how comfortable would you be speakin’ YOUR mind?

        It would be great if we could provide some kind of safe forum for BLM fellas that have minds and opinions of their own, but I think the prevailing air of cronyism keeps the good ones locked up tight.

        A few months back, I started some research on a guy. I was gonna splay his misqualifications all over the blogs. Then I found out this guy applied for his position because he thought he could make a difference for Wild Equines. He has been ridiculed as a tree-hugger and hippy. So he keeps to himself.

        Can you blame him?

        Take comfort in the idea that, WHEN the DOI & BLM implode, which they surely must, perhaps the time for beyond-the-box thinking will finally come of age. And keep a spot open for the Good Ones.


      • Hi, Roxy. Wonder which DOI circular file all our “ideas”, including those from DOI/BLM folks, ended up in? L.


  12. Lisa, no, I don’t blame him. I think I am odd, I have always done just that – but that’s just me – a little aspergerism I think. Did it make me popular with my co-workers? Yes and no, depended – usually found out many of those 200 thought the same. Has that put me in hot water, only occasionally, but better than stewing inside, never got me or anyone else that spoke up fired or chastised by peers. I have never understood what people are afraid of actually. Did it make me popular with higher ups – yes, I guess so since I have never had to look for a job in over 25 years – only then because I changed careers. Always hired away, even hired back to the same organization to a better position twice, always given all reorganization tasks and interdepartmental tasks. I suppose I would still be going strong if not for combination of health and the economy = layoffs, I was lucky – was able to take early retirement. I didn’t go to work to be in high school again, I go to do the job, the best job for the public and/or customers as my job descriptions have always indicated I am supposed to do. One place I had to take an oath to do so against even my boss and higher ups. Now days one gets in trouble for NOT bringing stuff up. This is the paradigm shift that is so needed in DOI – this oil spill and what has happened to our wild ones might not have happened in a truly well organized, quality and value driven organization.

    Having said that, I do not think I have worked in such a corrupt atmosphere as BLM/DOI obviously is, but I have had more than my share to deal with of “good ole boy” crap and institutionalized chummyness with the industry that was supposed to be regulated. In the end, I will say that most of what is heard around the water bottle is bragging, testosterone (no offense intended – this was explained me by men when I would become discouraged). This is so obviously again, not what is going on at BLM/DOI – they have real deep problems – amputations needed!

    I too had at one time envisioned working at BLM for the same reasons you give. I don’t know what would make me want to do that now – but never say no. Did you participat in the open discussion page for DOI? I recognized that process and, I will say it does smack of encouragment and good for Obama for starting that – but it takes a lot of time and hard work -so we’ll see.


    • Yeah, I submitted to Idea Scale. Do you remember the ‘Bureau of Wild Equines’? That was me. It seems kinda Pollyanna now, but at the time I thought it was innovative. And I still think it’s a good idea – removing the fate of Wild Equines from an agency branch that seems unwilling and ill-equipped to manage them by any methods beyond The Roundup and The Holding Facility.

      Being opinionated in the Private sector is a sought-after trait. Being opinionated in the Public sector is a no-no, and government service will squeeze the individuality outta you ’til you think like a good little automaton.

      I still hold out hope, but it’s wearing thin. I see the Gulf and all the screwing My Country and it’s Citizens have been subjected to in just the last 6 months and I wonder what kind of legacy these fools are authoring for my grandkids.


      • Lisa, yes I remember that post and voted thumbs up – a really great idea.

        It was city government for those 25 years (3 different communities, one twice). I was also on a statewide committee and saw the same movements in other cities as well as state government, and national code writing. It was the fire service – fire prevention, stationed in the Building Department – new construction and remodel plan review for permits – close ties with the Planning Department, land use, inspections and construction code writing (all have had their days in the news for bad behavior over the years). The first 8 years was a private sector job, contracted to the city, but under that contract we were considered part of the cities ethics and value system and trained just like any other employee. That was a second career after 15 years in real estate. I didn’t see any difference for me, but again, thats just me. It is sometimes hard to see what is going on from the outside and the desires of many don’t get noticed – but the bad always get noticed, and everyone gets blamed. We were also involved in some federal actions and they seemed to me and everyone else to be forthcoming – but a whole other world from DOI. So, yes I hope the good guys in BLM will survive when the implosion comes. It would probably be better just to reorganize what they have – the undesirable traits will show up early on- and those will either ride with the change or will leave on their own.

        If I were that guy in BLM I would be who I am, just laugh and say “yeh I’m a tree hugger – guilty! Someone has to be so you all have someone to banter about – to keep some balance!”

        Yes, I agree the future seems glum. But it has been coming on for more than 6 months, more like 8, 10 to 40 years. I recall the conversations and news stories from 40 years ago – seemed pretty much same as now – yet here we all are. Just have to stay involved and work togehter.


  13. Linda, could be! That would be too sad. But, I know these can take months to start any real reorganization, and considering DOI atmosphere, a greater than usual share of managment interferance along the way.

    Did you see my post about the Attorney General and DOI? They have been seriously working on reorganizaotin and ethics within DOI since 2006. But DOI is huge, so many departments within DOI. Even at a small city level, it can take 2 to 3 years to even get through a first round of reorganization and ethics shift, then on to 2nd, 3rd, what ever it takes. Not for the impatient or faint of heart – scary times – no one likes change, human nature, even when they want it.

    Problem is our horses may not have that long. The oil spill is what it is and will take its course – sader than sad for those folks.


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