3 Jan 2010, 11:26am
Federal forest policy Private land policies
by admin

How Coordination Plans Work

And How They Can Help Protect Your Rights

Note: the following is a introduction to “coordination plans,” a tool that local governments can use to become meaningfully involved in federal land management.

Additional information on this topic is available from Standing Ground [here], a periodical published by American Stewards for Liberty (formerly Stewards of the Range, now allied with the American Land Foundation).

Federal law (specifically the Federal Land Policy Management Act, FLPMA) mandates federal agencies to coordinate actions with local governments. That process occurs if and only if local governments insist upon it. County Commissioners need not sit on the sidelines while federal agencies promulgate and implement plans to burn public forests, degrade watersheds, pollute air and water, and cripple local economies. The FLPMA can be invoked, forcing federal agencies to deal directly and substantively with local interests.

By Fred Kelly Grant, Stewards of the Range, American Land Foundation and Liberty Matters, February/March 2007 [here]

Local governments that have implemented “coordination” status with federal management agencies are successfully fighting erosion of private property rights in their communities. The “coordination” status is authorized by almost every federal statute relating to management of land, resources, and the environment. All the local government has to do is formally accept the congressional invitation to “coordinate,” and federal agencies have no choice but to agree.

What is this “coordination” factor, which elevates the involvement of local government in federal planning and management actions? The foundation for the concept is found in the Federal Land Policy Management Act, commonly known as FLPMA. Section 1712 of Title 43 of the United States Code requires that the Bureau of Land Management must coordinate its “land use inventory, planning, and management actions” with any local government which has engaged in land use planning for the federal lands managed by the federal agencies.

Congress did not leave the definition of the word “coordination” to chance, or to the whim of the federal management agencies. Congress defined the word by specifying the duties and responsibilities of the BLM regarding local plans. The statute REQUIRES the following:

1. BLM must keep apprised of local land use plans;

2. BLM must assure consideration is given to local plans when federal plans are being developed;

3. BLM must attempt to resolve inconsistencies between federal and state local plans;

4. BLM must provide “meaningful…involvement” of local government officials in the development and revision of plans, guidelines and regulations;

5. The Secretary must, finally, compare local and federal plans and make sure they are consistent “to the maximum extent…consistent with federal law.”

BLM regulations set forth a very clear process by which the local government, which has developed a plan is able to “coordinate” with the BLM, and this process includes an elevation of the participation level of the local government to a point of notice and “meaningful” participation above and ahead of “public participation.”

Note that the statute does not limit mandatory coordination to “counties,” but rather extends it to “local government.” That language includes any unit of local government, often identified as any separate tax-raising unit of government, i.e., school districts, road districts, fire districts, irrigation districts, and cities and towns.

So, in a county where county commissioners or supervisors refuse to develop a local plan for coordination status, any school board or other tax-raising unit of government can gain coordinate status for itself. The ideal goal for local government would be to develop a plan by which the county, towns within the county, school districts, irrigation districts, fire districts, could all participate in the same coordination activities.

Other federal land management agencies are also required to deal with local governments on a higher plane than they do with the general public. This applies to those which operate under and implement the National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Preservation Act, Soil Conservation district statutes, and the National Environmental Policy Act. … [more]



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