Terrestrial Discontinuities

[In 2009, an ill-conceived 6,000 mile network of energy coordidors in the US West represents the collective ambition of Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service.]

[In 2007, an ill-conceived 6,000 mile network of energy corridors in the US West represents the collective ambition of Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service. The project is called the West-wide Energy Corridor.]

Following a trail from our Dust Bowl post last week, we read with great interest that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "plans to conduct sweeping ecological assessments of public lands across the West." (via) More specifically:

The BLM says it will study the Colorado Plateau, southern Californias Mojave desert and Nevadas central Great Basin desert. It announced Monday it would use the studies to decide how to make use of the public lands.

In part this is likely based upon increasing interest in potential for energy transport corridors as per the Energy Policy Act of 2005. And funding for 2011 comes from a US$8 million increase to the BLMs annual budget for 2010. Federal land management has certainly been a little less than anything to be inspired about in the intervening decade. Whatever the regional equivalent of pothole filling would be the appropriate descriptor here. (Lets just say considerable money goes into a regular horse census.) So atention to these lands, however fractured and discontinuous it might be, is refreshing. To put this in context, the Bureau of Land Management is responsible for administering about 253 million acres of land, or about one-eighth of the total land mass of the United States. Repeat: one-eighth the land mass is public lands managed by BLM.

[The BLM manages about 37,000 horses on its land, which is an considered 10,000 surplus over a sustained balance with other species and resources.]

[The BLM manages about 37,000 horses on its land, which is an considered 10,000 surplus over a sustained balance with other species and resources.]

[Significant domain of the BLM at lands surface. Counting sub-surface, the BLM empire expands to one-eighth US land mass.]

[Significant domain of the BLM at lands surface. Counting sub-surface, the BLM empire expands to one-eighth US land mass.]

And they are in the hot seat from the proposal last year for the  not-so-popular West-wide energy Corridor, presented in 2007, which spawned a lawsuit from a hefty list of agencies invested in land protection, such as: Sierra Club; The Wilderness Society; Western Watersheds Project; the Center for Biological Diversity; Defenders of Wildlife; National Parks Conservation Association; National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The West-wide corridor cuts a 6,000 mile webbed-network figure through 11 states, covering some 3 million acres of public lands. The Energy Corridor is intended to deliver (combined) oil, gas, hydrogen pipelines, and electrical transmission lines. In a post last year, Power of Ecosystems / Ecosystems of Power, we noted Ryder and Rosas stunning documentation of power corridors, and their ability to create their own vectorial landscape. A landscape--with very little human intervention--of clear cut trees or branches, untended or cleared groundcover, and quite often human waste. This linear network, estimated at some 300,000 miles, supports an ecology that has flourished under these conditions. It seems the West-wide corridor system could begin to embrace that possibility as well. Recognizing its status as an infrastructure likely to be devoid of extensive human presence, these corridors range from 3,500 feet wide to upwards of 5 miles wide. With these widths, we could almost being to see these corridors as an ecology in and of themselves - rather as a ecology competing with National Parks. they could BECOME the New National Parks, infrastructural vectors, protected as natural reserves by virtue of their very danger to us.

[Lots of anti-big government types like to show this comparison of BLM and associated agencies to various European countries. It is impressive.]

[Lots of anti-big government types like to show this comparison of BLM and associated agencies to various European countries. It is impressive.]

The Guzzler is a useful resource on everything BLM that the BLM doesnt always want let out. Also, possibly related is the Landscapes of Quarantine opening next week at Storefront for Art and Archietcture. (If we had time to do so, this would have been an InfraNet Lab contribution to what looks to be a fantastic exhibition.)

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