States May Take Equal Lead on Public Lands
By Don Bowman
|A provision of federal law largely ignored until now is forcing federal agencies to acknowledge local governments when making decisions affecting their regions.|
As a consequence, several states and counties in the West -- including Nevada's Nye County -- are pursuing agreements that will require local and federal agencies to cooperate on public land management.
Several Nevada counties are now seeking a "seat at the table," but New Mexico has been in the forefront on this effort for some time, and it is New Mexico Lieutenant Governor Walter Bradley who is getting much of the credit for the new Western initiative.
"I have to salute our Lt. Governor," says Howard Hutchinson of the New Mexico-Arizona Coalition of Counties. "He has been the backbone of this idea from the start. He may be the only political leader in the West who understands what is going on."
Under section 1501.5(b) of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), a state or county can become a "joint lead agency," and Bradley has said that, in New Mexico, "we are taking a joint lead."
The consequences, reportedly, can be dramatic. According to one source, when the State of New Mexico chose to "take a joint lead" in an effort started by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to introduce
the wolf into New Mexico, it practically stopped the
effort "dead in its tracks."
lands, Howle then
deferred to Nye County Commissioner Richard Carver to
update the group on negotiations.
phone, fax or letters.
She cited instances where decisions were made on the
ground, last summer, that were expedient and beneficial
to both resources and the people involved. She said all
parties to the agreement were committed to working
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