Perspectives on the New BLM Rule

From Nick Smith’s news roundup today….

BLM wilderness areas may be less accessible to the public soon (Washington Policy Center)
Balanced use of public lands has been a contentious issue in the western United States for many years. A rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would limit recreation and grazing on land previously considered public by creating a framework for “conservation leases.” The BLM manages approximately 10 percent of the landmass in the United States with much of those holdings in the West. BLM’s new director, Tracy Stone-Manning, appears to be seeking a means to circumvent Congress by proposing the change to BLM land use policy through rulemaking despite a long-standing Congressional policy already being in place.

Why does BLM need a new rule to do its job? (New Mexican)
Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the BLM is charged with managing the 245 million acres of public lands under its jurisdiction. That management is subject to a mandate to manage those lands for multiple uses. Historically, “multiple use” has included activities such as recreation, range, timber, minerals, watershed, wildlife and fish and natural scenic, scientific and historical values. A central feature of the BLM’s proposed Public Lands Rule is to transform “conservation” into a “use.” That is, under its proposed rule, the BLM will issue “conservation leases.” Conservation, however, is not a use. It is an objective. The BLM should already have been managing “uses” on our public lands in a way that promotes conservation. Has it? If not, why not? Why, as BLM claims, is a new rule going to make it more efficient or allow it to make better decisions? What’s going on? What’s the real agenda? Who’s behind it?

14 thoughts on “Perspectives on the New BLM Rule”

  1. I was afraid of this when I first heard of the conservation use idea. I’m ok if they want to pay for oil leases and use them for conservation instead. But not if they crowd out other uses.

    The deal was always that we put up with uses we don’t like, and they put up with us. Ranchers especially are ok with recreationists, as long as you don’t leave trash, keep to established roads, and leave gates as you found them.

    Crowding out all other uses is not conservation, it’s preservation. I had reservations about that director no matter how much good stuff they said in Montana.

  2. I don’t see Congress sitting idly-by, on this. Many western politicians have lots of BLM lands in their States. They think that the BLM works for the prosperity of their State, despite being a Federal Agency.

  3. Conservation shouldn’t crowd out recreation. But Stone-Manning was never a friend to recreation while she was playing around in Montana, and now she’s showing her true colors once again on a national stage. If she is true to form, she will deflect blame for this potential rule away from herself, especially if conflict develops.
    I sure don’t have a beef with the goal of the rule, but if it compromises recreation, it’s just another back door path to wilderness. Not trying to be political, but this could be left wing meddling of a system that is already suffering from multiple tug of wars.

  4. In 2008, Bidder 70 Tim DeChristopher crashed a US Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leasing auction to prevent greater harm to the planet then drove up the prices of some of the bids and won more than a dozen parcels valued at some $1.8 million. But in 2011 a federal jury in Salt Lake City declared him guilty of two federal felonies and sent him to prison.

    About the time he was released environmental lawyer and activist, Robert Kennedy, Jr. wondered in The Nation why DeChristopher was incarcerated but Massey Energy Earth hater, Don Blankenship remained free.

    Today, putting the country on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of our land and 30 percent of our ocean areas by 2030 (30×30) is imperative to preserving public lands especially now as the worst megadrought in at least 1200 years is driving desertification in much of the western United States. A supermajority of registered voters in the Mountain West agrees according to bipartisan polling conducted by the Colorado College State of the Rockies project.

    Current BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning has called nearly every Trump era ruling illegal including the failure to manage mustangs safely while blows to morale and an exodus of employees have contributed to horse mortalities during gathers.

    Now, conservation is center stage as the Department of Interior and BLM plan to sell preservation leases to parties interested in environmental protection. As expected, Earth haters in Congress are apoplectic and a public meeting is scheduled for Albuquerque on 30 May.

    Don Blankenship was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor conspiracy for willfully violating federal mine safety standards and spent a little time in jail himself after an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 people in 2010.

    Tim DeChristopher founded the Climate Disobedience Center and is actively raising awareness of climate necessity defense.

    The BLM is being sued for its plans to conduct additional, often-dangerous gathers to reduce the horse population in Wyoming’s Red Desert with hopes to avoid violence from Republican welfare ranchers.

    Rewild the West.

    • I’d assume Stone/Manning would eradicate feral horses, kind of like the way they remove discarded mining and oil drilling equipment.

  5. An inflammatory piece based on hysterical speculation by the “Washington Policy Center.” They say: “There is the potential that wilderness lands like Hells Canyon, the Owyhee Wilderness Areas, the Vermilion Cliffs, would be considered Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and closed to the public.” There is also the potential for me to get elected President of the U. S.

    Here are some actual facts on ACECs:
    “ACECs are areas within existing public lands that require special management to protect important and relevant values. ACECs can protect important resources, unique scenic landscapes, and people and property from hazards on public lands. ACECs are evaluated through land use planning using the best available information and extensive public involvement, and you have a say in how they are managed.”

    Or the WPC says, “By creating a conservation lease “framework,” the agency is looking to close land previously open to the public for use and earmarking it for a single use.” Actually, the proposed rule states an objective of providing outdoor recreation, and it specifically refutes this lie about closures:
    “The proposed rule would define the term “casual use” so that, in reference to conservation leases, it would clarify that the existence of a conservation lease would not in and of itself preclude the public from accessing public lands for noncommercial activities such as recreation. Some public lands could be temporarily closed to public access for purposes authorized by conservation leases, such as restoration activities or habitat improvements. However, in general, public lands leased for conservation purposes under the proposed rule would continue to be open to public use.”

    • The American Bar Assn. has an analysis.


      The proposed rule includes four major changes to the existing regulatory scheme utilized by the BLM. The first is the placement of “conservation” on equal footing with the other multiple uses that BLM land is managed for by clarifying that conservation is a “use” under FLPMA. Conservation in the context of the proposed rule encompasses management of renewable resources designed to achieve desired future conditions through protection, restoration, and any other types of planning, permitting, and program decision-making. The second is authorizing the use of conservation leases to allow other individuals to dedicate BLM lands to conservation. The third alteration is a revision of the existing regulations that provided a framework for establishing Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC): the new rule prioritizes the creation and management of these areas. The fourth change expands the framework for making land health assessments to allow for informed management decisions on BLM lands: the existing regulation limits land health assessments to grazing lands only.

      The clarification that “conservation” qualifies as a “use” under FLPMA is a significant alteration to the current management scheme. The BLM can only manage lands for the multiple uses defined in FLPMA unless the land has been specifically dedicated for certain management, such as wilderness areas, under FLPMA. The inclusion of conservation as a use allows the BLM to manage land for conservation purposes without a special land use designation. This provision clears the pathway to prioritize conservation and promote the protection of BLM lands for future generations.

      The proposed rule also creates other pathways for conservation on BLM land using conservation leases. Conservation leases are a mechanism that would allow entities to support the protection and restoration of BLM lands. The proposed rule creates a framework to apply for and utilize a conservation lease. The length of conservation leases, as stated in the rule’s executive summary, would be for a maximum of ten years. Under the proposed rule section 6102.4, conservation leases can be issued for either restoration and land management or to mitigate the impacts of other projects. The leases can be issued to individuals, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, or tribal government

      • Here is the FLPMA definition of “multiple use:” “a combination of balanced and diverse resource uses that takes into account the long-term needs of future generations for renewable and nonrenewable resources, including, but NOT LIMITED TO, recreation, range, timber, minerals, watershed, wildlife and fish, and natural scenic, scientific and historical values …” My emphasis – and based on that, I think the hyperventilation about creating a new (inferentially unsanctioned) “use” is unwarranted. Maybe it would be a change in management, but certainly it’s within the agency’s discretion to do so. (I’d also argue that “conservation” overlaps several of the other articulated uses.)

        And then there’s the equally important, or arguably overriding, FLPMA requirement of sustained yield, which supports the need for conservation. The BLM says, “The term “sustained yield” means “the achievement and maintenance in perpetuity of a high-level annual or regular periodic output of the various renewable resources of the public lands consistent with multiple use” (43 U.S.C. 1702(h)). The BLM recognizes this need for ecosystems to continue to provide services and values when declaring, in its mission statement, its goal “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” ( (emphasis added); see also 43 U.S.C. 1702(c).) Without ensuring that native ecosystems are functioning and resilient, the agency risks failing on this commitment to the future.”

      • These are the two bothersome pieces,
        :revision of the existing regulations that provided a framework for establishing Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC): the new rule prioritizes the creation and management of these areas.”
        “The leases can be issued to individuals, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, or tribal government”
        So, Defenders of Wildlife and Earth Justice could lease some land, declare it an ACEC as that is the stated priority, and make rules like no off road off trail walking, ie no hunting, camping with porta ledges only, etc.
        I’d be happy if Stone Manning went back to spiking trees.


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