No Meetings for You- WY, UT ID OR- And Burr on the BLM Conservation Rule

Check out BLM’s cool National Data GIS maps!

Look at all the BLM land across the West. The meetings are in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, and yet Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and eastern Oregon also have large chunks of BLM.  What do the States of NM CO and NV have in common that aren’t shared by WY UT and ID? Let me think…

Anyway, thanks, Greg Beardslee, for this link!

Burr: Bureau of Land Management has it wrong with new conservation rule

Landscape Health and Conservation Rule would allow conservation leases on potentially all of the 247 million acres of land managed by BLM.

Ben Burr is Executive Director of BlueRibbon Coalition

Ben Burr is Executive Director of BlueRibbon Coalition

In the early days of his presidency, President Biden laid out his vision to comply with the 30 x 30 agenda, which is a marketing scheme developed by hardline environmental groups to justify locking up 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. Those of us who understood he had no legislative mandate to propose such a vision wondered what administrative chicanery would be deployed as an extra-constitutional workaround to accomplish something the American people didn’t ask for.

Now we know. The plan is to sell off our public lands to the same environmental groups who schemed up the 30 x 30 agenda.

This will be accomplished by the Bureau of Land Management’s recently proposed Landscape Health and Conservation Rule. According to the BLM, secret statutory authority has been hiding in plain sight for 50 years in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) that would allow them to create and sell conservation leases on potentially all of the 247 million acres of land managed by the BLM.

This rule is problematic and should be withdrawn. At the BlueRibbon Coalition we are working to unite public land users of all types to oppose this rule for the following reasons:

  • First, the Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have the authority to create this rule out of administrative thin air. FLPMA doesn’t contemplate a conservation lease scheme, and if Congress wanted the BLM to administer such a program, they would have expressly authorized it. This scheme would also likely raise revenue for the government, which again, is something BLM doesn’t have authority to do. Only Congress, can authorize a new program like this that raises revenue for the government.

  • Second, this rule won’t work. I have reviewed BLM project files where the agency and high-minded conservation organizations have entered into agreements to manage land towards conservation priorities. In these cases, all parties to the agreement flagrantly neglected to uphold the terms and conditions of the agreement. If the conservation leases don’t have any teeth for non-compliance, then they could cede management control of public lands to 3rd parties at the same time the public will have few if any tools to hold the 3rd parties accountable for non-compliance.

  • Third, this rule is unnecessary. The BLM is already required to comply with dozens of other laws and executive orders to prioritize conservation on public lands. Scores of environmental lawsuits that get filed every year ensure that the compliance with these laws is taken seriously. Despite the statutory requirement the BLM has to manage public lands for multiple use, conservation is prioritized above all other uses on a regular basis.

  • Fourth, this rule could easily lead to unintended intervention into public land management by foreign governments. If the government of Brazil wanted to further monopolize the American beef industry, it could funnel dark money to organizations that oppose public land grazing that could use the funds to acquire conservation leases on public grazing allotments to interfere with those grazing operations. If China wanted to kill an American lithium industry in its infancy, it could fund wildlife protection organizations to acquire conservation leases in areas rich with lithium.

As a leading national non-profit that works to protect recreation access to public land, at the BlueRibbon Coalition we are worried that this rule will be used to limit motorized recreation, dispersed camping, and all other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands. This rule will be a way for conservation organizations to create de facto wilderness, where they have failed to get Congress to make such restrictive designations. The $800 billion outdoor recreation industry thrives because of BLM’s careful efforts to balance conservation with other uses. By prioritizing conservation even more than it already is, we will undermine an industry that is fueling the livelihoods of many who live in the West.

We are grateful for the leadership of Representative John Curtis, who has introduced HR 3997. This legislation instructs the BLM to withdraw this rule. The rest of the Utah delegation has supported this legislation with Senators Lee and Romney supporting a Senate companion bill. We are encouraging everyone who supports public access to public land and a strong American economy to join Utah’s congressional delegation in telling the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw this rule by visiting

Benjamin Burr is the Executive Director of the BlueRibbon Coalition – a national nonprofit that has been working since 1987 to protect public access to public land

8 thoughts on “No Meetings for You- WY, UT ID OR- And Burr on the BLM Conservation Rule”

  1. Indeed. What is the difference between these states? Conservative dominance versus liberal dominance. Unless they schedule more meetings in those conservative states, it shows the BLM is clearly liberal and catering only to liberal constituents. In other words, discriminating against a certain demographic. Something I’ve brought up many times about the Forest Service and certain elected Congressmen and senators. Now the BLM, under Tracy Stone-Manning, is getting in deep.

  2. At least, if all the land is under conservation easements, those have to be paid for, and every county with Interior land in a conservation easement would get half the revenue. No roads to maintain. No fences to maintain. No water sources to maintain. Most conversation easements limit or prohibit hunting, fishing, and Joe Pubic entry and use. No idea is a conservation easement will have implied ability to sublet use for entry for non extractive uses. The in lieu of taxes issue is huge in low population counties with little private land and assets to tax for schools, roads, and even in many areas today, private fire prevention and suppression districts whose purpose is to keep federal land fire off private land. No idea what responsibility a conservation easement will have vis a vis fire and fuels management. If none, just another bad idea from the font of two years of consecutive and accumulating bad ideas.

    Someone needs to ask how a Nation that cannot protect its border can protect the owners of conservation easements, and the hoi poloi from easement holders. At what point does it not definable as public land with public use. Incrementally, going to highly regulated protectionist set aside land that poses a real and certain threat to private land by fire is not inconsequential.

  3. 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.

    Last year a Texas group calling itself American Stewards of Liberty with ties to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion presented anti-Earth resolutions to a receptive Otero County Commission and the San Juan County Commission heard two resolutions dealing with land use issues after watching ASL’s Margaret Byfield’s dog and pony show. Byfield is lobbying the Yankton, South Dakota County Commission appearing for a second time in the mostly Democratic district near the Yankton Sioux Nation.

    Southeastern New Mexico is home to many descendants of the Confederacy and are resisting the Lincoln National Forest’s plan revision. A couple weeks ago county commissioners from Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln and Otero counties heard an update to the 1986 forest management plan, a revision that began in 2015. Byfield was also there.

    In March the Jemez Pueblo was granted title to a portion of the Valles Caldera National Preserve after the Court of Appeals issued a split ruling creating a precedent for other tribes seeking to regain rights to their traditional homelands. Lawyers representing the Pueblo of San Felipe are suing the Department of Interior over a federal land patent from 1864 after the Trump Organization’s Bureau of Land Management illegally took nearly 700 acres in 2017.

    President Joe Biden should immediately create a new national monument from the Lincoln National Forest and remand management to the Mescalero Apache.

    Montana Republicans have apparently forgotten that the ground they live on was seized from aboriginal cultures by liberal democrat, President Thomas Jefferson through an executive order that even he believed was unconstitutional.

    In Montana there are twelve tribal nations living on seven reservations. But, rabid Republicans in that state aren’t just fearful of government overreach; they’re frightened public lands now held by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the US Forest Service will be remanded to the First Nations.

    In 2021, Montana’s Republican legislature passed regulations that restrict each tribal nation to a single permit to cultivate and market cannabis. Under state law tribes aren’t even allowed to build facilities on their own reservations but in defiance, the Apsáalooke or Crow Nation maintains that as sovereign it doesn’t need permission from state authorities and so far no tribe has even bothered to apply.

    In December, a Republican Earth hater with political aspirations mused during public remarks whether members of tribes living on reservations in Montana should even be able to vote in state elections. Now another Montana Republican has drafted a joint resolution that “urges Congress to investigate alternatives to the American Indian reservation system.”

    Every federal department and agency already recognizes Native America as the 51st State so progress toward resolutions of Native trust disputes would have far more political traction after tribes secede from the States in which they reside and then be ratified to form one State, the 51st, sans contiguous borders with two US Senators and three House members as there are an estimated 2.5 million Indigenous Americans living on reservations.

    David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He wrote in The Atlantic that he believes that most land held in America’s national parks should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it’s my view that the most of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust.

  4. “Scores of environmental lawsuits that get filed every year ensure that the compliance with these laws is taken seriously.” I’m so happy to hear the Blue Ribbon Coalition support this approach. (Of course they have been known to do the same thing, so making litigation harder would hurt them as well.)

    I’ll have to admit that the far right is much better at coming up with conspiracy theories to fan public fears. It’s those foreigners out to get us again. But first they would have to participate in the land management planning process where land would be identified as suitable for conservation leases (rather than grazing or lithium):

    “During the resource management planning process, some tracts of public lands should be put into a conservation use, such as by appropriately designating or allocating the land, to maintain or improve ecosystem resilience. When determining, through planning, whether conservation use is appropriate in a given area, authorized officers would determine “which, if any” landscapes to manage to protect intactness, necessarily taking into account other potential uses in accordance with the BLM’s multiple use management approach. (§ 6102.2(b)) In identifying the areas that are most suitable for management as intact landscapes, the BLM could work with communities to identify areas that the communities have targeted for strategic growth and development; managing those areas for intactness is less likely to be appropriate.”

    • I’m not sure I am convinced that “conspiracy theory” and far-right are mutually exclusive when it comes to forest mgmt. Yes, the far-right is a hindrance to good forest management and policy, I 90% agree. Interestingly, many of the biggest industrial timberland owner executives feel the same way, if you get them in the field and ask them.
      But, it is widespread common knowledge that many of the California NGOs that litigated the hell out of timber harvests and forestry in the 80-90s were fully funded by illegal cannabis cultivation. It was a nice way to keep people out of the forest. We can talk all day about the right/wrongs of the CA timber wars, and the steps that led to private/public timber/old growth liquidation, but in the end, dark money from outside a conflict, that has its own interests, is a very real thing

      • This article doesn’t support the assertion that, “many of the California NGOs that litigated the hell out of timber harvests and forestry in the 80-90s were fully funded by illegal cannabis cultivation.” Without more, I’d be tempted to put that in the category of “conspiracy theory.”

  5. To address Sharon’s question regarding meeting locations, I am guessing that this tact taken by the BLM is to expressly build positive momentum and positive press. Doing this, the BLM can generate spin supporting their goal, and the resulting situation puts opponents in under represented states into a defensive role that’s hard to rise above. It puts the BLM on a winning path. Unfortunately it will also generate more polarization. This practice of ignoring certain public demographic in order to create a wonderful, positive image of a proposal is very common in Montana, where Stone-Manning is from. She has made a career of this sort of discriminatory deception, primarily when working for Senator Tester. I’m sure this public rollout and meeting schedule was carefully planned to avoid having to face opponents concerns. While discrimination is common and acceptable in politics and the actions of NGOs, it’s not at all appropriate by a government agency.

  6. I’ve been camping in the Utah backcountry for the last week with no cell service so just catching up now. Glad to see my friend Ben Burr getting some airtime on here. One big concern we have with this rule is what effect will these conservation leases have on recreation, especially motorized recreation? Could anti-motorized environmental groups buy up a conservation lease in the middle of an open OHV area like Sand Hollow or Factory Butte in order to “mitigate OHV damage and close it to offroad vehicles, regardless of the fact that the local field office management plan authorizes that use? Could these leases be used to close designated roads and trails or shut down popular camping areas? The rule claims that public access for casual recreation would still be allowed and that conservation leases would not override existing incompatible uses but I have my doubts.


Leave a Comment

Discover more from The Smokey Wire : National Forest News and Views

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading