Congress created the process of Coordination for one purpose – to mandate the federal land use agencies work with local government to resolve conflicts.
Coordination is the ultimate process for conflict resolution because it forces the federal agencies to sit at the table face-to-face, government-to-government with local elected officials who represent the will of the people – something Congress has failed to do for generations.
Normally, federal agencies operate in a vacuum. The majority of Americans feel like our civil servants are all sitting in a room somewhere creating mandates they are going to force us to live with. And, because they have the power of the federal government from the IRS to the Attorney General’s office behind them, they act with impunity circumventing their sworn responsibilities to protect and defend our constitutional rights as citizens of these United States.
Hopelessness and apathy are normal reactions to government agencies and their edicts. It’s easy to understand why no one thinks they can do anything to fight back, but they have a very simple and powerful solution, known as Coordination, at their disposal.
However, Coordination can only be utilized and initiated by a “local” unit of government such as a state, county or municipality. Other examples are set out below, but to be able to utilize the process of Coordination, you must turn to locally-elected officials like county commissioners or supervisors, city councilmen, or school boards, etc. Federal statutes authorized by Congress
mandate federal agencies to coordinate land use inventory, planning and management actions with local governments to resolve conflicts.
The federal statutes that mandate coordination specifically use the word “shall,” which means they are required to do so. There is no gray area in the statute. Even the Homeland Security Act passed during the Bush Administration contains mandatory coordination language.
A “local government” is defined by each state Legislature and not determined by the federal agencies. Do not accept a response from a federal agency that they don’t have to coordinate with your local government, if your state statutes define the entity as a local government. It’s not up to them to decide which local government they will coordinate with. It is mandated by Congress that the federal agencies shall coordinate with local government, no matter which one is utilized.
In reality, the federal agencies should automatically coordinate with every “local government” entity, but, as you’ll see in later issues, that isn’t the case. The local entity has to assert its coordinate status to bring them to the table.
If you do not know if a government body is a “local unit of government,” research your state statutes online to see how your State Legislature defines a local unit of government. For example, the State of Wyoming defines a Natural Resource Conservation District in Title II of the Agriculture, Livestock and Other Animals Code, Section 11-16-102 (a) (v) by saying a “District” or “conservation district” means the government of this state…” It is a unit of government as defined by the state. The Conservation District in Wyoming is a local government.
Normally, a local government, as defined by each individual State Legislature, includes the following entities:
2. Incorporated city/municipality;
3. Water district;
4. School district;
5. Natural Resource Conservation District;
6. Fire/Emergency/Hospital district that has a locally elected board of directors; or
7. Any legislatively, statutorily created government entity with local planning, taxing, enforcement or regulatory authority.
However, not every local government is amenable or suited to utilize Coordination. The best scenario is to have a unified local-elected board. If they are all in agreement to not only utilize coordination, but desire the same outcome, then you have the making for a successful coordination process. If there is not unity on the board, we will normally advise another government entity be found.
For instance, if your county commissioner’s court isn’t amenable to coordination, we’ve found the next best entity is the local Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCD). An NRCD normally covers a large region either within and/or outside the boundaries of the county and, as a locally-elected board, they are in tune with most of the natural resource and agricultural issues in the region that need to be coordinated with the federal agencies.
Politically, this can bring dissention or even anger from the county commissioners since they were elected to “represent” your interests. But, because they were divided or don’t desire the same outcome as you, all’s fair when it comes to protecting private property and the best interests of the community.
For coordination to be effective, there needs to be complete unity in the local government’s philosophy and priorities.
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