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GLIN==> Tribal takeover of national park/wildlife refuges activities is fast tracked
- Subject: GLIN==> Tribal takeover of national park/wildlife refuges activities is fast tracked
- From: "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2007 12:46:27 -0500
- Delivered-to: email@example.com
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-name: GLIN-Announce
Note....Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan
is on the list.....
from PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
For Immediate Release: November 6, 2007
Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337
TRIBAL TAKEOVER OF NATIONAL PARKS AND REFUGES ON FAST TRACK
Legislation Would Set ?Targets? for Transferring Jobs and Funds to Tribal
Washington, DC This week, Congress will consider legislation that
directs the Interior Department to turn over many national parks,
wildlife refuges and other operations to tribal governments under
virtually permanent funding agreements, according to Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility (PEER). National parks such as Redwood,
Glacier, Voyageurs, Olympic and the Cape Cod National Seashore are among
the 57 park units in 19 states listed as eligible for tribal operation,
as are 19 refuges in 8 states, including all of the Alaska National
Wildlife Refuges and the National Bison Range in Montana.
This Thursday, November 8th, HR 3994 by Representative David Boren (D-OK)
is slated for hearing before the full House Natural Resources Committee,
just nine days after it was introduced. The committee is chaired by Rep.
Nick Rahall (D-WV), the bill?s lead co-sponsor.
Under its terms, tribes could take over any Interior programs ?that are
of special geographical, historical, or cultural significance to the
Indian tribe? and receive federal payments covering all direct and
indirect costs. The Interior Secretary would ?establish programmatic
targets? ensuring that ?a significant portion? of federal jobs and
programs are included. Assumption would be mandatory wherever a tribe
?has a federally reserved right? in local fish, wildlife, water or
minerals. In all other cases, Interior could refuse a tribe only where it
can show a legal prohibition or ?a significant danger or risk to the
Once executed, the tribal funding agreements could not be terminated for
non-performance, but could only be suspended for ?gross mismanagement? or
?imminent jeopardy? to resources or public health. In addition, tribes
would have the right to be fully paid in advance. Any savings or
economies would go entirely to the tribe and future payments to the tribe
could not be reduced.
?This bill would be like having a herd of Halliburtons permanently
embedded inside Interior?s budget,? stated PEER Executive Director Jeff
Ruch, noting that tribal profit margins would be guaranteed and a tribe
could stop work entirely if costs exceeded agreement estimates, yet still
keep the federal payments. ?It is clear from this measure?s incredibly
one-sided terms that lobbyists are still writing at least some of the
legislation before Congress.?
HR 3994 stipulates that tribal operation of parks and refuges would not
be subject to the Freedom of Information Act or any other public
reporting requirements. Moreover, no federal rules, guidance or policies
would apply to programs under tribal funding agreements. In addition,
tribes could move to waive any applicable regulation and could redesign
programs or reallocate federal funds as they see fit.
?This bill does nothing to protect the wildlife and natural resources
which are the very reasons we have these refuges and parks,? Ruch added.
?In fact, these agreements would be cemented in place even when there is
poor performance, rudeness to the public, sexual harassment, job
discrimination or damage to the resource ? so long as the damage is not
?irreparable? in the legalistic lingo of this proposal.?
Much of the bill, particularly the portions preventing termination of the
funding agreements except in very limited, extreme circumstances, appears
to be motivated by the experience at the National Bison Range. In
December 2006, Interior abruptly cancelled a shared operation agreement
with a local tribe citing abusive conduct and intimidation directed at
U.S. Fish Wildlife Service employees, as well as substantial
non-performance of many key tasks.
?This bill reads like a negotiating tactic to pressure Interior to renew
the Bison Range funding deal,? Ruch concluded, noting that a review of
the events at Bison Range by the Interior Office of Inspector General is
reportedly ready to be released. ?Congress should take a very hard look
at what happened on the National Bison Range before signing away scores
of our most treasured public lands in perpetuity.?
Alex J. Sagady & Associates
Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Expert Witness Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
657 Spartan Avenue, East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); email@example.com