The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a Conservation and Landscape Health Rule. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support public lands conservation. It is very important for conservation-minded individuals to show their support for this rule. The comment deadline has been extended to Wednesday, July 5, 2023.
Nearly 40% of all US public lands are overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. These lands provide clean drinking water and fresh air, support healthy natural areas for wildlife and recreation outdoors, and protect innumerable cultural sites and landscapes valued by Indigenous and other communities across the West. However, for nearly 40 years the agency has prioritized resource extraction over conservation, recreation, wildlife, fragile watersheds, and cultural resource protection in partnership with tribes who have stewarded these lands for centuries.
The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to modernize its national policies to balance conservation with other uses on public lands. This policymaking creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure local land managers in the agency have clear directions, reliable funding, and credible science to prioritize conservation for the benefit of western communities, wildlife and a sustainable future.
The following webpages have more information about the proposed rule:
- The Bureau of Land Management’s Public Lands Rule site has a lot of great information including frequently asked questions, infographics, and presentation materials.
- Powerpoint slides (PDF) and captioned recording from Rocky Mountain Wild’s Public Lands Rule Workshop.
- Act Now for Public Lands, a conservation-oriented discussion of the rule.
- The Federal Register Notice with the full proposed rule text at the end.
How to Comment
It is very important to comment on this rule to show broad support for conservation and to counteract well organized opposition. Comments are most useful when submitted on or before Wednesday, July 5, 2023.
- Write your own comment and submit it through Regulations.gov. See sample talking points below.
- Get inspired by Great Old Broads for Wilderness’ Sample Letter (biodiversity protection focus) or the Climate Forest Coalition’s Sample Letters (forest focus).
- Read Rocky Mountain Wild’s advice on writing comments that stick.
- The simplest way to submit comments is through the comment portal on the Act Now for Public Lands site.
Great Things in the Proposed Rule
- Puts conservation on an equal footing with other uses of Bureau of Land Management lands.
- Focuses on identifying and protecting intact landscapes.
- Strengthens designation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs).
- Increases focus on restoring landscapes back to health.
- Expands land health standards beyond the grazing program.
- Supports reducing harm from development through mitigation actions including mitigation-focused conservation leasing.
- Promotes meaningful engagement with Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations.
- Incorporates Indigenous Knowledge into decision making.
- Closes gaps in Bureau of Land Management rules to meet conservation aspects of the Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA).
Things that can be improved
- Identification of and protection for intact landscapes and ACECs is proposed to happen only through the Resource Management Plan revision and amendment process. The rule should provide guidance and deadlines for these actions.
- The proposed conservation leasing program does not well support restoration partnerships with tribes, community organizations, and non-profits because of the cost burdens and other complexities. The rule should rework the conservation leasing program for restoration activities outside of compensatory mitigation or create a different framework.
- As part of putting conservation on equal footing with other uses, funding for protecting and restoring natural habitats and ecological functions should be on par with funding associated with other uses such as grazing, recreation, and resource extraction.