July 23, 2019

Wyden, Merkley Urge Protection of Citizen Engagement in Public Lands Management

Senators express concern that Trump executive order could terminate one-third of volunteer-led, locally-focused public lands management committees

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged Donald Trump to protect vital, volunteer-led councils which currently inform Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public land management policy.

Last month, Trump issued an executive order instructing all federal agencies to review their advisory panels and terminate at least one-third of existing committees under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Wyden and Merkley today in a letter to Donald Trump expressed concern that the executive order could force BLM to disband one-third of its Resources Advisory Councils (RACs), which are volunteer committees created to engage citizens, especially in rural communities, in public lands management.

“RACs carry considerable weight in their work to inform public land management decisions on issues related to forestry, recreation, grazing, mining, oil and gas exploration, and wildfire management,” the senators wrote. 

“We are concerned that limiting the number of BLM RACs, coupled with BLM’s persistent delays in approving RAC members, will unnecessarily limit public engagement in the management of public resources and will create gaps in these volunteer groups’ ability to properly advise the government,” the senators continued.

RACs, authorized pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, are typically comprised of 10 to 15 volunteers from local communities, and inform BLM’s public land management decisions on forestry, recreation, grazing, oil and gas exploration, mining and wildfire management. There are currently 37 RACs covering western states, including Oregon.

A copy of the letter is available here.