October 30, 2018

Wyden, Merkley Seek Answers from Interior on Public Land Advisory Group Vacancies & Nomination Process

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley requested that the Department of the Interior explain the high number of vacancies to advisory groups dedicated to ensuring critical community input in Oregon and nationally on public land management issues—and its failure to reappoint well-qualified, well-regarded and widely-supported volunteers.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Resource Advisory Committees (RACs) are comprised of 10 to 15 members with diverse backgrounds and interests who work collaboratively to support and advise the BLM in its public land management responsibilities. RAC appointments, however, have recently slowed to an unprecedented pace and a number of applicants – several of whom have served in the recent past – have been denied from serving on RACs in Oregon. The high number of vacancies threaten the advisory groups’ abilities to properly advise federal land managers and fulfill their duties.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the lawmakers wrote: “Given these current vacancies, the failure to reappoint volunteers and BLM’s need to engage the public in management of the public lands, we are requesting information concerning the RAC member nomination and appointment process and the rationale for the failure to re-appoint [RAC members]. …. Specifically, we are requesting information on nominations approved at the BLM State Director level for the years 2017-2018 that were denied at the Washington office for the BLM and the rationale for those denials.” 

Wyden and Merkley requested a full response to their request within 30 days of October 29, 2018.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.