The New BLM

Since we spent some time talking about the old BLM, and then its new Director, I thought it worth sharing this interview with Tracy Stone-Manning by Lee Newspapers.  It’s too bad, though, that there wasn’t a question about what she thought about the Forest Service and interagency coordination.  Some key policy points …

As of today, Stone-Manning has a pretty large to-do list: Reform BLM’s oil and gas leasing system and achieve the agency’s energy mission largely through the use of renewables. Promulgate new rules governing grazing leases that are fair and good for the landscape. Ensure that recreationists will still be able to find beauty, quiet and solitude.  In short, she says, manage not for process but for outcome — leaving both the agency and the vast land it manages in better shape than they were when she started.

“I think people saw that confirmation process for what it is, a sign of our times. I’ve had nothing but a warm welcome here at the agency. People are relieved to have a confirmed director and they are ready to go.”

“The last Administration said it had an energy-dominant agenda for public lands. We need to get back to our true calling, under the law, of being a multiple-use agency. Addressing conservation and climate change is part of that multiple use.”

“The priority is already shifted to renewable energy development. I want to be able to prove up on that, to show we can power this country well with renewable energy. And as for the development that is continuing as a result of existing rights, I want to ensure that those doing the developing are paying their fair share for resources that come out of the ground that we all own together, and ensure that the siting is responsibly done.”

“Climate change isn’t blue or red, it’s affecting us all in the West. Every Montanan breathed wildfire smoke last summer. Every rancher is seeing impacts of drought on the landscape. One thing that typically unites Americans is that we solve problems. My focus is going to be consistently on trying to solve problems with people who are willing to come to the table to work on them. The only way through the polarization is to be frank and transparent and not to step into the fray but to acknowledge it.”

“We are going to come forward with a draft grazing rule… “We’re in the midst of what some people call a megadrought and others call the new normal. We have to figure out how to manage for the health of the landscape. In many cases cows can help us do that if we’re really smart about how we use the tool that we call grazing. Outcome-based grazing is the new effort at the agency. The thought behind it is exactly where we need to go: Determine the outcome we’re looking for on the landscape and graze accordingly.

I think it’s safe to assume that same “outcome-based” strategy would apply to its forest management program as well, which should align with what the Forest Service has said it is doing.  She added this other interesting comment, in response to a question about a proposal to graze bison on BLM lands in Montana.

“Our job is to manage for the health of landscape and implement the law. We’re certainly aware of the sensitivities of that cultural question. But that’s what it is, a cultural question. We don’t manage culture, we manage landscape outcomes.”

5 thoughts on “The New BLM”

  1. I’m not a fan of combining the FS and the BLM but a citizen taxpayer has to wonder why the two agencies have to do everything (new grazing regs?) (except fire) quite so independently.

  2. That Republican welfare ranchers are angry about rewilding means it’s the right thing to do.
    Moving the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior, even merging the Forest Service and BLM would be just one step toward rewilding the West.

    Hydraulic fracturing can waste up to 16 million gallons of water per well so here in New Mexico that’s often too high a price to pay not to keep fossil fuels in the ground. In the Second Congressional District alone the oil and gas industry left hundreds of orphan wells but because New Mexico is flush with cash operators just walk away from them leaving the state and feds to do the work to cap them. The BLM wants to hold the industry accountable.

  3. $1.35 a month to graze an animal on public lands is a subsidy and the farm bill is a series of handouts to mostly Republican counties.

    Throughout the Midwest, Great Plains and Mississippi Valley fertilizers applied to subsidized corn and cotton then ends right back up in the Gulf of Mexico where it kills whole ecosystems. It’s happening in the Columbia, Colorado and Rio Grande River systems, too.


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