Friday, May 25, 2012

Wherein the deer and the antelope play parts in a federal notice with worrying potential for linkrot.

Ah, poetic moments in the Federal Register.

Today there's one in a public comment request on management and visitor services for the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Where, it is specified, a word is not to be heard about grazing, not even seldom. (A victory in itself, that.)

[Update 5/30/12: See the comment below, in which FWS noted yesterday that they had fixed the originally botched link in the notice -- see here. Still wonder, however, how/whether this and similar items will be archived.]

We're talking about a big Fish and Wildlife preserve in the gorgeous dry empty-looking country of eastern Oregon, out past Klamath Falls, north of Nevada. (Nothing to do, by the way, with the Wyoming historic incarceration site. That's Heart Mountain with an "e".)

Here's the poetry:
"The Refuge encompasses a massive fault block ridge known as Hart Mountain, which ascends abruptly almost three-quarters of a mile above the Warner Valley and then extends along nearly the entire western edge of the Refuge in a series of rugged cliffs, steep slopes, and knife- like ridges. The eastern slope descends gradually in a series of hills and a broad, gentle plain. Refuge habitats primarily include various sagebrush uplands interspersed with meadows, seasonal shallow playas, and pothole lakes. Aspen line the few perennial streams, and western juniper cover steep canyon slopes along the mountain escarpment. The Refuge provides important but seasonal habitat for its signature species, the American pronghorn antelope, and also for mule deer, bighorn sheep, and a wide variety of raptors and smaller migratory birds. The Refuge also provides habitat for year-round resident wildlife, which includes a full assemblage of sagebrush steppe mammals, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and birds, and provides some of the most intact and important remaining habitat for the imperiled greater sage-grouse."
Smell that bitter dusty warm wind?

Now, back to our regularly scheduled problematizing:

The Federal Register item I've cited above refers to a Web site address that, as of today, doesn't exist. Maybe it will by the time you read this -- to check, you can click here. The actual Web site of the refuge is at this similar link but I can't find a special page there related to the comment request.

Which makes this another example of the Government By Memory Hole problem with the federal government's publication of record, the Federal Register. Agencies keep issuing carefully archived official announcements in the Federal Register that only really make sense by reference to Web sites elsewhere. The sites mentioned are, at times, extremely changeable Web pages on the agencies' own servers. (Or rather, in this case, not on the relevant agency's server.) As far as I can tell, Web sites that are mentioned in the Federal Register aren't archived according to any particular standard. The practical effect is to create big pockets of incipient linkrot in the supposedly acid-free archives of federal regulatory processes that affect, potentially, oodles of people and dollars.

Another problem: the announcement requesting comment is dated April 2 but the publication date is today, May 25, and the public meetings it announces for a middle school in Lakeview are coming right up now, on May 31 and June 4, which doesn't work out to much notice for folks who want to go.

Um, where were we -- right -- "And the skies are not cloudy all day."

1 comment:

  1. We realized the issue and have repaired the broken weblink connection for the address used in the Federal Register notice. You should be able to access the site now. As an alternative you can use:

    Aaron Collins, Park Ranger USFWS