Property rights, Harriet Hageman discusses effect of Wild Lands, biodiversity
Casper – In a lecture given the week after the BLM issued guidance to field managers describing how the agency is to use Secretarial Order 3310, commonly referred to as the Wild Lands project, Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman labeled the intent of the order, and its accompanying “rewilding” projects, as a taking of private property rights.
Hageman, the 2010 Casper College Distinguished Alum, spoke at Casper College on March 1 for the 10th Annual Doornbos Lecture Series. Along with private property, Hageman addressed wolves in Wyoming, Wyoming water law and the effect of federal regulations on natural resource industries.
Regarding the Wild Lands project, Hageman specifically mentioned an article titled “The Rewilding of North America,” published in a 2005 edition of Nature magazine.
“The idea is, because we have vast open spaces in the Rocky Mountain West, i.e. Wyoming, they will bring in all the endangered species from all over the world and release them here,” she explained. “They will simply move the people off and bring in lions, elephants and cheetahs.”
She pointed out the article’s statement that “large tracts of private land hold the best immediate potential for studies.”
“They’re targeting private property for this idea,” she said. “When I first read it, I thought it was insane, but it isn’t. You should hear the number of people who are talking about bringing animals from Africa and releasing them in the western United States.”
Hageman said the Wild Lands project shows a plan to take property throughout the country and return it to “wildlife corridors.”
“What the map shows is huge swaths of Wyoming and the western United States with a simulated reserve and corridor system to protect biodiversity,” she noted, adding, “The word ‘biodiversity’ is about taking away private property rights.”
She pointed out that the map says the corridors were drawn “as mandated by the Convention on Biological Diversity, The Wildlands Project, UN and U.S. Man and Biosphere Program and various UN, U.S. heritage programs and NAFTA.”
“There are people paying massive sums of money to figure out how to make the United States look like this to protect biodiversity ‘as mandated’ by the Convention on Biological Diversity,” she noted of the lines drawn on the map.
Hageman added that vast swaths of the land for the project are private lands, and that the UN can have a hand in projects like this through treaties with the U.S. that can trump the U.S. Constitution, even though they shouldn’t.
“We don’t have a federal government that fights back and says this isn’t even a discussion we’re going to have,” she said. “The project is foundational to the UN Biodiversity Treaty, which was never ratified by the U.S. Senate, and it calls for approximately 50 percent of United States to be set aside as Wild Lands, where no human can enter.”
In a public relations release from the UN, it was said of Wild Lands that “step by step, and piece by piece, the Wild Lands project is coming to fruition, and much has been accomplished over the last 10 years toward that goal, and the pace is stepping up.”
Although Hageman said the information and planning hasn’t been as public in the Obama administration, at least so far, she said it was really stepped up under the Clinton/Gore administration.
“Keep in mind that whenever there are decisions that affect public lands, they also affect private lands, especially the private lands nearby,” she said. “When multiple use is taken out of the equation on federal lands the pressure on private lands is increased, in terms of what we need to produce.”
“A society that cannot feed itself cannot survive,” she said of the increased pressure on private lands. “The most extreme example of that is Sudan, which imports 90 percent of its foodstuffs, and has over the last two generations. They’ve been in civil war for 40 years, and the primary cause of the fight in that country has to do with the fact that they can’t feed themselves.”
Hageman mentioned a proposal by The Wilderness Society that would like to turn five to six million acres of federal land in California into wilderness. California already has 14 million acres of designated wilderness, which is 13.78 percent of the state. Six million more acres would make that 19 percent, and Hageman said if parks, monuments and wildlife reserves are added that figure jumps to 27.5 percent of the state that’s been taken out of production.
In addition to the UN and the environmental groups, Hageman said another threat to private property rights are the reports and papers published non-stop, such as one entitled Are Wyoming range practices working across purposes with wildlife habitat goals, published by the Environmental Defense Fund.
“These organizations have massive amounts of money, both private and federal, that they get to study ways to take your private property away,” she stated. “They publish beautiful reports that describe how bad grazing is, and they don’t limit the discussion to federal property or state lands. The purpose of these documents, which are funded by the federal government and your tax dollars, is to stop grazing in the western United States.”
Hageman also talked about a woman who has written extensively about the “myth of the Western cowboy” and the “myth of agricultural production.” Her most recent report is titled Western Grazing: The Capture of Grass, Ground and Government.
Debra Donahue, a University of Wyoming law professor since 1992, believes it’s a myth that “ranchers are cowboys,” that “cowboys are independent, self-reliant, honest and hard-working” and that “public land ranching is crucial to the local rural western economies.”
She also writes that it’s untrue that public land ranching is crucial to maintaining a valuable culture and way of life, and that keeping public land ranchers in business maintains open space.
“She says it’s another myth that ranchers are good stewards of the land and all it’s creatures, and she says it’s a myth that grazing improves the land, and that ranching provides clean air, water and wildlife habitat,” noted Hageman.
Another article by Donahue is entitled Trampling the Public Trust and is summarized with the statement: “Livestock production is a chief contributor to many significant and intractable environmental problems.”
“Interesting about this writing is that for almost every reference she relies upon her own previous writings. The article is well-documented with footnotes, but the myths are substantiated because she’s said it before,” said Hageman of the Western Grazing article. “This is the kind of publication we’re getting from people who are paid at the University of Wyoming.”
“I don’t believe in censorship – she can write what she wants – but I have the right to bring it to everyone’s attention,” continued Hageman. “She teaches in the law school, and this is what she teaches the kids coming out of law school.”
Hageman told the Casper College students in attendance at the lecture series that she has a hard time finding attorneys who want to do what she does.
“We need people who are willing to go out and work for our ranchers, irrigation districts, land managers and farmers,” she said. “I see myself as someone who’s in the ag industry, as an ag attorney, and I take great pride in the fact. We need other people like me. I need you to get an education, go on to law school and push back and tell them we won’t take this anymore. Our liberties are too important to allow someone from Washington, D.C. to dictate how our property will be managed, and our liberties are too important to even allow someone from Washington, D.C. to say how our federal lands will be managed. Those decisions need to be made at the local level.”
She said she’d be happy to help any student go on to get a bachelor’s and master’s degree with the intent of becoming an ag attorney.