From US House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources:
Subcommittee to Hold Legislative Hearing on Bill to Secure Border on Federal Lands
WASHINGTON D.C. – On Friday, July 8th the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold a legislative hearing on H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, and H.R. 587, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2011.
Federal land managers are using environmental regulations to prevent Border Patrol agents from accessing portions of the 20.7 million acres along the U.S. southern border and over 1,000 miles of the U.S.-Canada border. Border Patrol agents are consistently unable to use motorized vehicles to patrol these areas or place electronic surveillance structures in strategic areas.
As a result, our federal lands have become a highway open to criminals, drug smugglers, human traffickers and potentially terrorists. This has led to escalated violence and also caused destruction of the environment. Click here to learn more.
H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, prohibits the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using environmental regulations to deter U.S. Border Patrol from securing our border on federal lands. The legislation would ensure Border Patrol, not federal land managers, have operational control of our borders.
||Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public LandsLegislative Hearing on:
- H.R. 1505, to prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking action on public lands which impede border security on such lands, and for other purposes. “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.”
- H.R. 587, to amend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 to expand the authorization of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and the Interior to provide service opportunities for young Americans; help restore the Nation’s natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational and scenic resources; train a new generation of public land managers and enthusiasts; and promote the value of public service. “Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2011.”
Witnesses to be announced.
||Friday, July 8, 2011
||1334 Hearing Room in the Longworth House Office Building
Visit the Committee Hearings webpage for testimony and additional information, once it is made available. The hearing is open to the public and a live audio stream will be broadcast at http://naturalresources.house.gov/live.
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And here is more….
Securing our Border on Federal Lands
Serious security gaps exist on federal lands along the northern and southern U.S. border. While the goal of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Agriculture is to protect our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands, internal documents have shown that DOI land managers are using environmental regulations (such as the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act) to hinder U.S. Border Patrol security efforts. For example, Border Patrol is often blocked access to these lands, unable to use motorized vehicles to patrol these areas, and prevented from placing electronic surveillance structures in strategic areas.
As a result, our federal lands have become a highway open to criminals, drugs smugglers, human traffickers and potentially terrorists. This has led to escalated violence and also caused severe destruction of the environment.
Republicans have introduced H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, to prohibit the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using environmental regulations to hinder U.S. Border Patrol from securing our border on federal lands, ensuring Border Patrol has operational control of our borders.
Click here for additional facts and pictures.
Rep. Rob Bishop Opening Statement on Securing Our Border, Joint Subcommittee Hearing (April 15, 2011)
Dangers on the U.S. Border, Feature video (August 18, 2010)
Rep. Rob Bishop Speaks on Border Security Concerns on Federal Lands, U.S. House Floor (June 17, 2010)
U.S. Closes Park Land Along Mexico Border to Americans, FOX News (June 15, 2010)
Interior Department’s loophole in U.S. border Patrol on Public Lands, FOX News (April 14, 2010)
In the News:
- Dear Colleagues – End the Lockout of Border Patrol to Federal Lands – Vote “Aye” on the Lummis Amendment (06/02/2011)
- Press Release – President Obama Disregards Dangers on Federal Lands Along U.S. Border (05/10/2011)
- Press Release – Witnesses Stress Need for Increased Border Security, Improved Access on Federal Lands (04/15/2011)
- Press Release – Republicans Introduce Bill to Secure Border on Federal Lands, Protect Environment (04/13/2011)
- Floor Statements – Hastings: Obama Administration Regulations are Costing American Jobs, Blocking American Energy Production (02/10/2011)
And put the above in the following context:
Federal land managers under the gun of the Endangered Species Act responsible for destruction of over 300,000 acres of border wild lands
It is becoming clearer and clearer all three recent border fires were linked to illegal aliens or drug smuggling.
The fires were started by people who should not have been on federally-managed lands if our border was secured.
In the case of the Murphy Fire west of Nogales there is mounting evidence that not only did illegal aliens start the fire, they were caught and then deported because the Forest Service did not want to prosecute them for starting the fire. 68,078 acres were destroyed.
Out of Control
The incident commander says the Murphy Fire was started by a man in distress
by Leo W. Banks
….”The U.S. Forest Service did interview a person of interest that the U.S. Border Patrol had in medical custody. The U.S. Forest Service did not request the U.S. Border Patrol to detain the person of interest. The investigation continues and the U.S. Forest Service will not comment on continuing investigations.”
A federal source familiar with the matter says the Forest Service decided not to prosecute the case because it was a signal fire under life-and-death circumstances.
Is it standard federal policy not to prosecute distressed individuals who start signal fires? Is the policy the same for citizens and illegal aliens? Dan Wirth, who works for the Department of the Interior, discussed the issue with the Weekly before the big fires broke out.
Speaking strictly about illegals, Wirth says he knows of no case in which a Mexican national has been prosecuted for setting fires. "It comes up that we should, but the reality is, what interest is there in prosecuting somebody when all they’re going to do is deport them?" asks Wirth, Interior’s Southwest border law-enforcement coordinator.
But if someone destroys thousands of acres of American public land, why not prosecute and put them in jail?
Illegal alien in distress started Murphy Fire?
In the case of the Monument Fire the federal lands were supposedly closed to the public but a fire started on a smuggler corridor. The fire was spotted by several people moments after it started. Folks are 90% certain this fire is linked to illegal cross-border activity. 30,526 acres and 56 homes were destroyed.
The evidence directly linking the Horseshoe 2 Fire which destroyed most of the Chiricahua Mountain “sky island” habitat is less certain to have been started by an illegal alien or drug smuggler…but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence supporting the claim. 222,954 acres of wild lands were destroyed.
See Leo Banks’ article in the Tucson Weekly about the Horseshoe 2 and Monument fires.
That is 321,000 acres of public and private land burnt.
We seem to have a federal government at cross purposes with itself.
On one hand the Department of Homeland Security is tasked with securing the border.
On the other hand federal land managers place protecting the natural environment ahead of national security.
That includes the managers of the Coronado National Forest, the managers of the US Fish and Wildlife’s Buenos Aires National Wildlife Reserve, the managers of the US Fish and Wildlife’s San Bernardino National Wildlife Reserve, the Bureau of Land Management’s San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and the Forest Service managers of the Pajarita Wilderness Area.
As documented by a Government Accounting Office Report, federal land managers do not allow the Border Patrol free access to the border and adjacent areas.
GAO confirms federal environmental laws and federal land managers hinder securing our border
Thus federally managed lands are wide open to illegal entry and drug smuggling.
And federally managed lands are also open to people who start wild fires.
Playing “politically correct fire story” games as the federal government has been doing allows them to escape the cold hard fact…their policies allowed over 300,000 acres of really special country and many homes to be turned to ashes.
There cannot be a conflict between securing the border and managing federal lands.
The primary responsibility of the federal government is to protect the health safety and welfare of the people.
But….because of the Endangered Species Act federal land managers have to put their environmental protection goals ahead of national security.
Now they are managing burnt stumps.
Several things need to happen:
First, Congress needs to drag both the management of the Border Patrol and the federal land managers in front of a hearing and force them to produce all the documentation they have about the causes of the three border fires.
If it turns out to be true that the Coronado Forest management let the Border Patrol deport the Murphy Fire starter(s)…maybe someone needs to be fired there.
Second, Congress really needs to dig into how the Endangered Species Act can allow US Fish and Wildlife to trump national security using Section 9 of that Act.
Third, Congress needs to remove the environmental handcuffs on the Border Patrol at and near the border so illegal aliens and drug smugglers cannot enter federally-managed lands in the first place.
Fourth, I suggest the US Attorney for Arizona ought to seriously consider filing Endangered Species Act Section 9 criminal charges against the US Fish and Wildlife Service managers as well as environmental activists and environmental groups that openly impeded border securityand limited the federal goverments’s ability to deny access of illegal aliens and drug smugglers to federal lands.
This clearly resulted in the fire starters getting into federally-managed lands which killed hundreds of endangered species.
Section 9 prohibits everyone, private person and federal agency alike, from “taking” endangered wildlife. The regulations extend this to threatened animals (see e.g. , 50 C.F.R. §§ 17.31, 17.21). “Take” includes “harming” a listed species,  and “harm” is defined by FWS regulation to include habitat alteration:
The only defense federal land managers have for blocking the Border Patrol having access is the Endangered Species Act itself….because if a federal land manager allowed a Border Patrol agent onto the lands and the agent killed an endangered species, that agent could be prosecuted under Scetion 9 along with the federal land manager that allow the BP into the land.
The way US Fish and Wildlife works to raid other agency budgets is they could negotiate an “incidental take” agreement with the Border Patrol and charge them millions of dollars from DHS funds so Fish and Wildlife can study bats and other critters along the border.
I am not exaggerating here. US Fish and Wildlife already did this.
Ultimately the Endangered Species Act and how it is administered in the borderlands is the bottom line as to why there is over 300,000 acres of destoyed habitat and who knows how many dead endangered species in the Chiricahua, Huachuca, Atascosa and Tumacacori mountain ranges.
Illegal aliens or drug smugglers may have started the specifc fires … but if they weren’t on the federal lands in the first place…no fires.
And once this can of worms is opened up…I believe we will find that virtually all the devastating fires in the West can be linked to the Endangered Species Act being used to trump sound land management.
Sort of like saving the village by burning it down.
COMMENT: One can safely assume that the link between an illegal alien starting the Murphy Fire and federal land managers who have hindered Border Patrol access to the smuggling corridors in the Pajarita Wilderness Area and the Coronado National Forest west of Nogales is going to be a hot topic at this Congressional Hearing.
Politically correct fire stories…who is burning down our wildlands?
The fire next door….this time in Tubac..updated information on Murphy Fire
Border Patrol: Agent spotted Monument Fire at its beginning
Rare species turned into crispy critters in the path of Monument Fire
More on how environmental rules are hampering Border Patrol operations near the Mexican border
Cochise County Sheriff Dever says illegal immigrants likely started Monument Fire
GAO confirms federal environmental laws and federal land managers hinder securing our border
Republicans Introduce Bill to Secure Border on Federal Lands, Protect Environment
More on “politically correct fire stories”
Really Interesting fire map of Southwest
Another smuggler corridor wildfire and the anger is flaring up
Many in S. Ariz. fire zone blame border crossers
Aftermath of Murphy Fire
Chiricahua Mountains … another “sky island” turned to ash
Border security versus the environment
Wilderness Areas on the border? What a great idea if you are a cartel drug smuggler
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions…burning down our wildlands