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The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national grass-roots group dedicated to preserving responsible recreational access to public lands and waters, today expressed concern over the Obama Administration’s nomination of Robert V. Abbey as Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The group says although Abbey has a good record during his 32 years with federal land managing agencies, his affiliation with some litigious preservationist groups raise significant questions.

Abbey worked for more than 32 years with state and federal land management agencies before retiring from the federal government in July 2005. Most recently, he served as BLM’s Nevada State Director. Upon learning of Abbey’s nomination, BRC polled many of its members and supporters who had worked with him over the years. “With few exceptions, the reports we are getting have been positive,” said Brian Hawthorne, BRC’s Public Lands Policy Director. “Abbey is generally known of as a good manager, and one who understands the importance of public lands in providing diverse recreation for the American public.”

But the Coalition is concerned about Abbey’s association with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and their sub-groups, Public Employees for Environmental responsibility (PEER) and Rangers for Responsible Recreation, after his retirement from the BLM. CBD and PEER are aggressive litigants who often challenge even the most restrictive recreation management plans.

BRC’s Executive Director, Greg Mumm, noted that among the vast number of so-called environmental groups, CBD and PEER are well known for being the least willing to compromise and most likely to sue. “The goals of these groups are directly opposed to BLM’s multiple-use mandates,” Mumm said, adding, “Congress needs to ensure Abbey’s affiliation with these radical groups will not impede his ability to fulfil BLM’s multiple-use mission.”

Don Amador, BRC’s Western Representative, remembers being shocked when Abby joined CBD. “These groups specialize in manufacturing conflict where none exists. Given Abbey’s solution-oriented approach at BLM, we were mystified as to why he would want to affiliate with them.”

The BLM manages 256 million acres primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres with strategic oil, gas and mineral reserves. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742.

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