Salazar to take preservation nationwide – Interior secretary to use Colorado land-conservation program as model.

This is an interesting development in the DOI agenda under Secretary Salazar with this being his first public comment on his plans for a national preservation program. The questions begin with concerns about whom the actual beneficiaries would be? And just how would this program be implemented by anti-federal regulation interior western extractive interest promoting state legislative bodies? Another concern would be just what the definition of a “working farm” is with regard to such a program and would it really be considered “change”?

Salazar to take preservation nationwide – Interior secretary to use Colorado land-conservation program as model
by Joe Hanel – Herald Denver Bureau

16 Responses to “Salazar to take preservation nationwide – Interior secretary to use Colorado land-conservation program as model.”

  1. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Perhaps someone from Colorado could give their impressions how this has worked there?

    In the abstract, I have problems paying to keep agricultural operations in production for open space because that space is often quite degraded ecologically. It might look better than houses, but that is a matter of esthetics, not environmental quality.

  2. Brian Ertz Says:

    another subsidy for the landed elite – and another move toward diluting the ecological standards of what constitutes “conservation” benefit… “open space” does not necessarily constitute quality wildlife habitat. buy the land outright.

  3. kt Says:

    THe wretched BLM Director for several years under Buhs (before Jim Caswell of the ID Republican mafia repaled her) Kathleen Clarke had SWL (which we pronounced SWILL – just like the word in Obama’s Inauguration speech “bitter swill”.

    It stood for Sustaining Working Landscapes – which meant the earth revolved around, and the public lands were to serve, the Working Ranch.

    Will we be paying to support more of these touchy-feely designer beef operations – like Salazar and his brother have?

    In fact, will whatever this is all about benefit an Ag. entity of any kind that Salazar and family may be involved in? The Colorado free-ranging beef boys marketing group?

  4. Salle Says:

    My speculation is that this is a move to do just as all of the above suggest. Clearly the word “working” indicates anything but wild or preserved. I’m not buying it.

  5. kt Says:

    If this plan does indeed involve acquiring land, then dumping cows on it and claiming it all is “conservation”, it is Kathleen Clarke’s SWL (SWILL) on steroids. Even under Bush, SWL and the “working landscape:” nonsense was laughed out of existence.

    I am appalled that one of Salazar’s first kind of vision statememnts in the Obama administration has to do a move to potentially impose cattle grazing on land acquired for conservation purposes. This whole scheme as Brian writes, seems aimed to just cement in the continued “privileged” and elite status of a hand full of western cowmen. AND is a shameless and I believe unethical move to promote more of this kind of thing – only this time playing with public funds. Salazar has already betrayed the public trust, and shown himself unfit to be Interior Secretary. He can not be relied on to employ science -since he is blind to the ecological science showing the terrible ecological footprint of cattle grazing in the arid West. It also would promote more of this kind of thing -which his family is neck-deep in: If you go to links here, it says to contact Leroy Salazar –

    This USA today article says that Leroy is Ken’s brother.

    And the cow on the front page of the Salazar “holistic” beef sites – the photo just shows land holistically stomped to death. A cow just standing in bare dirt and some kind of weed. That is what grazing cattle – on public or private land in the arid West symbolizes – environmental destruction.

    Here is Ken’s brother John: Trying to get countries to take potential mad cow beef.

    Seems they all have forgotten how destructive ANY KIND of beef raising is. It is just appalling that Obama picked a cattle rancher – who purveys this most destructive of activities fresh out of the chute as Interior Secretary: (Ralph posted this too).

  6. Tom Page Says:

    The most appalling thing about the whole article is the gutting of the LWCF. In 2008, $900 million on paper, but only $38M after Congress is done with it. Before we start looking at other funding sources, this one needs to be defended.

    As someone who wrote several GOCO grants, I’d say that it was a successful program on balance, at least for the non-profit portion that I was familiar with. There was a competitive grant process that was remarkably free of political influence. This competitive process also weeded out many of the projects that provided marginal public benefit, or were put forth by second rate organizations. GOCO funds were used for lots of things – in one case I worked on, several partners were able to buy $17M worth of land in Eagle County and get it into State Parks. That land would be houses now, without GOCO. I’d bet that if you looked at all the purchases, there wouldn’t be as much ag land in there as you would expect, particularly as a percentage of $$ spent.

    GOCO funds were also a critical source of matching funds at the state level for large and small projects. Idaho does not have any state open space/wildlife funding program like this, and we are the worse for it – whatever one thinks of the lottery.

    That said, I don’t know if translates well to the federal level. There is money in EPA, Army CoE, LWCF…the Pittman/Robertson and Dingell/Johnson programs that Robert is familiar with…the federal sources are there. They were just obliterated during the Bush administration.

  7. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Thanks Tom,

    When I wrote my brief comment under the link I didn’t realize he wants to eliminate the LWCF for this.

  8. Ralph Maughan Says:


    I think Obama really does care about climate change. I hope groups keep telling him how bad beef production is.

    I hope the groups with Washington lobbyists are doing this. I have a feeling that in the Sierra Club instead, “big wind” got pushed down the throats of the Club’s activist members. Perhaps that it one reason Karl Pope is leaving as E.D. The Sierra Club is a grassroots organization, especially outside of the Western “red states.”

    As a grassroots activist and former minor officer in the 1980s — VP for the Pacific Northwest — I helped get rid of one Club E.D. who was a bit too much of an aggie.

  9. Tom Page Says:

    Ralph –

    I see in the article that he wants to “revamp” the LWCF, but I didn’t see anything about eliminating it. Do you have another article somewhere that I can’t find?

    Contrary to GOCO, LWCF allocations are extremely political. LWCF also has to go through the various agencies. One of the nice things about GOCO was that part of it was allocated directly to non-profits and small municipalities. To be able to apply directly for LWCF funds through a specific agency would be a great thing.

    A commentary at NewWest notes that $4.5B of the stimulus plan will go to Army CoE for riparian restoration projects in the west – I think it’s a pretty good guess that these projects were all the ones lined up for the last 8 years when the restoration budget was a big fat 0. Having this money flowing again would be a boon to western valleys such as the Big Wood, which has serious streamchannel problems in many places.

  10. doug Says:

    GOCO has been pretty successful and popular in CO, most fo the land for conservation, trails, and parks, rather than working Ag. But, the article seems to suggest that more emphasis would be placed on ag land..?

  11. JimT Says:

    Looks like Raul G. made the short list for the WH Super Bowl Party on Sunday. Maybe he can tell the President what a bad idea it is to put more grazing on conservation lands, or to somehow grandfather grazing activities forever as part of some conservation program. And telling Congress to leave the LWCF monies alone would be a good thing to do as well.

    Ralph, I know Johanna Wald was doing grazing for NRDC for decades, but don’t know if any of the nationals are doing grazing at this point in time as a primary program area…Linking it to CO2 excesses is the best way to attack it and get it listened to by this administration, I think.

  12. Overlander Says:

    I’m not sure that I’d look at Colorado as an example of anything other than rampant urbanization. Spent my teen and young adult years there. Now I go to Kansas for solitude.

  13. JimT Says:

    More Insights into Ken Salazar…I suspect this is a smokescreen to make alot of the grazing and mining activities difficult to stop…
    How to Make Bruce Babbitt Look Like Ed Abbey
    Salazar and the Tragedy of the Common Ground


    Although America’s greatest Interior Secretary, Harold Ickes, who had the post for nearly a decade under FDR, was from Chicago, the playbook for presidential transitions calls for picking a Westerner for Interior, as long as the nominee isn’t a Californian. Pick someone from Arizona or New Mexico or Colorado. Of course, Colorado has produced two of the worst recent Interior Secretaries: James Watt and Gale Norton. Ken Salazar may make it three.

    And why not? After all, Salazar was one of the first to endorse Gale Norton’s nomination as Bush’s Interior Secretary.

    By almost any standard, it’s hard to imagine a more uninspired or uninspiring choice for the job than professional middle-of-the-roader Ken Salazar, the conservative Democrat from Colorado. This pal of Alberto Gonzalez is a meek politician, who has never demonstrated the stomach for confronting the corporate bullies of the west: the mining, timber and oil companies who have been feasting on Interior Department handouts for the past eight years. Even as attorney general of Colorado, Salazar built a record of timidity when it came to going after renegade mining companies.

    The editorial pages of western papers have largely hailed Salazar’s nomination. The common theme seems to be that Salazar will be “an honest broker.” But broker of what? Mining claims and oil leases, most likely.

    Less defensible are the dial-o-matic press releases faxed out by the mainstream groups, greenwashing Salazar’s dismal record. Here’s Carl Pope, CEO of the Sierra Club, who fine-tuned this kind of rhetorical airbrushing during the many traumas of the Clinton years:

    “The Sierra Club is very pleased with the nomination of Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department. As a Westerner and a rancher, he understands the value of our public lands, parks, and wildlife and has been a vocal critic of the Bush Administration’s reckless efforts to sell-off our public lands to Big Oil and other special interests. Senator Salazar has been a leader in protecting places like the Roan Plateau and he has stood up against the Bush’s administration’s dangerous rush to develop oil shale in Colorado and across the West.

    “Senator Salazar has also been a leading voice in calling for the development of the West’s vast solar, wind, and geothermal resources. He will make sure that we create the good-paying green jobs that will fuel our economic recovery without harming the public lands he will be charged with protecting.”

    Who knew that strip-mining for coal, an industry Salazar resolutely promotes, was a green job? Hold on tight, here we go once more down the rabbit hole.

    The Sierra Club had thrown its organizational heft behind Mike Thompson, the hook-and-rifle Democratic congressman from northern California. Obama stiffed them and got away with it without enduring even a whimper of disappointment.

    In the exhaust-stream, not far beyond Pope, came an organization (you can’t call them a group, since they don’t really have any members) called the Campaign for American Wilderness, lavishly endowed by the centrist Pew Charitable Trusts, to fete Salazar. According to Mike Matz, the Campaign’s executive director, Salazar “has been a strong proponent of protecting federal lands as wilderness…As a farmer, a rancher, and a conservationist, Sen. Salazar understands the importance of balancing traditional uses of our public lands with the need to protect them. His knowledge of land management issues in the West, coupled with his ability to work with diverse groups and coalitions to find common ground, will serve him well at the Department of the Interior.”

    Whenever seasoned greens see the word “common ground” invoked as a solution for thorny land use issues in the Interior West it sets off an early warning alarm. “Common ground” is another flex-phrase like, “win-win” solution that indicates greens will be handed a few low-calorie crumbs while business will proceed to gorge as usual.

    In Salazar’s case, these morsels have been a few measly wilderness areas inside non-contentious areas, such as Rocky Mountain National Park. Designating a wilderness inside a national park is about as risky as placing the National Mall off-limits to oil drilling.

    But Salazar’s green gifts haven’t come without a cost. In the calculus of common ground politics, trade-offs come with the territory. For example, Salazar, under intense pressure from Coloradoans, issued a tepid remonstrance against the Bush administration’s maniacal plan to open up the Roan Plateau in western Colorado to oil drilling. But he voted to authorize oil drilling off the coast of Florida, voted against increased fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks and voted against the repeal of tax breaks for Exxon-Mobil when the company was shattering records for quarterly profits.

    On the very day that Salazar’s nomination was leaked to the press, the Inspector General for the Interior Department released a devastating report on the demolition of the Endangered Species Act under the Bush administration, largely at the hands of the disgraced Julie MacDonald, former Deputy Secretary of Interior for Fish and Wildlife. The IG report, written by Earl Devaney, detailed how MacDonald personally interfered with 13 different endangered species rulings, bullying agency scientists and rewriting biological opinions. “MacDonald injected herself personally and profoundly in a number of ESA decisions,” Devaney wrote in a letter to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. “We determined that MacDonald’s management style was abrupt and abrasive, if not abusive, and that her conduct demoralized and frustrated her staff as well as her subordinate managers.”

    What McDonald did covertly, Salazar might attempt openly in the name of, yes, common ground. Take the case of the white-tailed prairie dog, one of the declining species that MacDonald went to nefarious lengths to keep from enjoying the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Prairie dogs are viewed as pests by ranchers and their populations have been remorselessly targeted for elimination on rangelands across the Interior West.

    Ken Salazar, former rancher, once threatened to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to keep the similarly imperiled black-tailed prairie dog off the endangered species list. The senator also fiercely opposed efforts to inscribe stronger protections for endangered species in the 2008 Farm Bill.

    “The Department of the Interior desperately needs a strong, forward looking, reform-minded Secretary,” says Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, Ken Salazar is not that man. He endorsed George Bush’s selection of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior, the very woman who initiated and encouraged the scandals that have rocked the Department of the Interior. Virtually all of the misdeeds described in the Inspector General’s expose occurred during the tenure of the person Ken Salazar advocated for the position he is now seeking.”

    As a leading indicator of just how bad Salazar may turn out to be, an environmentalist need only bushwhack through the few remaining daily papers to the stock market pages, where energy speculators, cheered at the Salazar pick, drove up the share price of coal companies, such as Peabody, Massey Energy and Arch Coal. The battered S&P Coal index rose by three per cent on the day Obama introduced the coal-friendly Salazar as his nominee.

    Say this much for Salazar: he’s not a Clinton retread. In fact, he makes Clinton Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt look like Ed Abbey. The only way to redeem Clinton’s sorry record on the environment is for Obama to be worse.

    As Hot Rod Blajogevich demonstrated in his earthy vernacular, politics is a pay-to-play sport. Like Ken Salazar, Barack Obama’s political underwriters included oil-and-gas companies, utilities, financial houses, agribusiness giants, such as Archer Daniels Midlands, and coal companies. These bundled campaign contributions dwarfed the money given to Obama by environmentalists, many of whom backed Hillary in the Democratic Party primaries.

    Environmentalists made no demands of Obama during the election and sat silently as he backed off-shore oil drilling, pledged to build new nuclear plants and sang the virtues of the oxymoron known as clean-coal technology. At this point, the president-elect probably feels he owes them no favors. And he gave them none. The environmental establishment cheered.

    So the environmental movement has once again been left out in the cold, begging Rahm Emmanuel for a few sub-cabinet appointments. They may get one or two positions out of a couple hundred slots. But Big Green’s docile genuflections to Salazar won’t make those table-scraps go down any smoother.

    Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book, Born Under a Bad Sky, is just out from AK Press / CounterPunch books. He can be reached at:

  14. JimT Says:

    I agree about Colorado, at least the eastern half…Even Boulder is becoming a place where growth wins, habitat loses, and the local governments are so busy being heavyhanded with land use planning and green building codes they are actually preventing the use of sustainable techniques because they cost too much. So, we get more of the same being approved. I had hoped Boulder would be our last stop…but we are both thinking maybe not. Intolerance seems to the culture here now; wasn’t that way in the 70s and 80s..

  15. Allyn Meyer Says:

    Salazar just delt a dearh sentence to Polar Bears and Wolves today by going with the Bush rules to destroy
    Alaska by oil companies, mining, timber, hunters, the N.R.A.
    and Sarah Palin!! Can anyone on this site find out how much bribe money went to Salazar from the above destroyers of “our” public lands!! I want to shout it to the world!
    Please respond to

    Thank you, Allyn Meyer

  16. Allyn Meyer Says:

    Salazar just delt a dearh sentence to Polar Bears and Wolves today by going with the Bush rules to destroy
    Alaska by oil companies, mining, timber, hunters, the N.R.A.
    and Sarah Palin!! Can anyone on this site find out how much money went to Salazar from the above destroyers of “our” public lands!! I want to shout it to the world!
    Please respond to

    Thank you, Allyn Meyer

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