AOA Announces New Member Benefit for Shippers
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House Passed Omnibus Lands Bill Has Little Chance to Pass in the Senate
On June 19, 2012 the U.S. House of Representatives passed an Omnibus Lands Bill under H.R. 2578 (which amends the Merced Wild and Scenic Rivers Act). The bill also includes fourteen lands bills (under different Titles) which have little chance to pass in the Senate. The following bills are included in the package:
• NATIONAL SECURITY AND FEDERAL LANDS PROTECTION ACT. This Title waives 16 environmental laws, including The Wilderness Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Antiquities Act and other environmental laws which sponsors say are encumbering The Department of Homeland Security’s ability to enforce border protections on federal lands within 100 miles of international borders (Mexico and Canada). The bill gives U.S. Customs and Border Protection the authority to access all federal lands within 100 miles of the border to construct fences, monitoring facilities, build roads, establish tactical bases and use aircraft and vehicles to patrol the border.
• Another title in the bill gives the native-American Sealaska Corporation authority to log in the Tongass National Forest. An amendment by Representative DeFazio to prohibit the export of logs from the operation was defeated.
• The bill also removes Wild and Scenic protections from a portion of the Merced River to allow for increased water supply capacity behind the New Exchequer Dam by raising the pool by 10 feet which would flood about a half mile of the river in wet years for about 60 days (according to news reports).
• A title by Representative Heath Shuler (D-NC) would expand shooting ranges on public lands.
A number of other titles include provisions that would allow sea lions to be killed to protect endangered salmon, adjust boundaries or right of ways in National Parks, allow use of motorized vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore; and more.
The bill is opposed by the Obama Administration and has no chance of passage in the Senate although some of the titles have bipartisan support.
Supporters of the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act cite the murder of rancher Robert Krentz in Arizona by a drug trafficker who entered the country through the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge. In describing the event that inspired the legislation, The Natural Resources Committee website states: “The San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge is a 2,300 acre area in Arizona managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS,) an agency of the U.S. Interior Department, that shares three miles of the border with Mexico. This is one of the areas that Border Patrol has been unable to effectively monitor due to environmental regulations enforced by Department of Interior land managers.”
Colorado High Park Fire Shuts Down Poudre River and Some Area Tourism
The closure of Highway 14 from Cameron Pass to Ted's Place has the Poudre River shut down since June 9th despite having adequate flows for rafting. Containment of the fire has improved to 55%. Guest ranches in the area are also getting calls from travelers with reservations who are wondering if their vacation will be available. Most are still open and expect to be okay. The fire is 15 miles northwest of Fort Collins and has scorched over 65,000 acres and destroyed 189 homes.