From river breaks to high mesas, and from sage coulees to semi-arid mountain ranges, America’s 245 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands are some of the best places to hunt and fish left on the planet. These lands are “Sportsmen’s Country” and their future management is currently being reevaluated by public land managers.
If you depend on these BLM public lands for access to hunting and fishing, now is your chance to shape how these lands are managed for the next 20+ years. With many sportsmen in the West dependent on publicly-accessible, highly-functioning BLM public lands—the ones essential for producing quality big game, robust fisheries, and sustainable hunting and fishing opportunities—it’s critical we speak up to ensure our sporting heritage.
The BLM is currently requesting public input on their proposed rules to revise the agency’s national land use planning strategy for these public lands located primarily in the West. Dubbed “Planning 2.0,” the process represents the first substantial revision to the BLM’s land use planning process since 1983. This action will address the land use planning process that shapes landscape-level management through the creation of Resource Management Plans (RMPs). All local areas of BLM land are managed through RMPs, and these plans are the basis for every action and approved use on BLM managed lands. RMPs help to determine how and if fish and wildlife habitat conservation and management will be carried out, and they direct the agency to manage for outdoor recreation.
So how will this benefit sportsmen?
More (and hopefully better) public involvement: Successful land use planning includes early and frequent communication with the public, including sportsmen and women. Under the current BLM planning process, the public submits comments at the scoping period, those comments seem to disappear into the hands of the agency, and years later the BLM comes back with a proposed draft land use plan. The public then submits comments on the draft land use plan and the BLM disappears for another year or more before issuing a proposed final plan. This long timeline with little communication from the agency makes it difficult for the public to remain interested in the process, and the lack of transparency makes people question how and if their comments are being used.
Planning 2.0 is focused on fixing these problems by increasing the transparency of the land use planning process by creating a “plan assessment” process and “preliminary alternatives.” The plan assessment stage would enable the public (as well as agencies and elected officials) to provide information about the planning area before the agency begins considering how the lands should be managed. The preliminary alternative stage would offer draft management alternatives to the public for feedback before the draft land use plan is formally proposed. These additional steps would help to maintain increased public interest in the planning process and help to ensure that the draft RMP more closely meets the expectations of stakeholders.
Landscape level planning: As hunters and anglers, we know that mule deer and steelhead don’t stop and turnaround at the county line. Neither should land use plans. The BLM planning rules are also proposing to revise RMPs at the landscape level, such as across multiple BLM Field Offices at one time. Right now, land use plans are created along artificial jurisdictional boundaries, often at the Field Office level of the BLM within a particular state. This current system doesn’t account for resources that move beyond the lines on a map. By integrating landscape level planning into BLM management, the agency should be able to better care for fish and wildlife species that migrate and depend on different habitats throughout the year. Numerous fish and wildlife species should benefit from this change.
Managing for modern resource needs: Times have changed since the last time the BLM made significant revisions to its planning regulations. Over the past 33 years, the US population has increased by 85 million people, driving with it an increased thirst for natural resources and an increasing demand for outdoor recreation. Advancements in science and technology have given land managers an improved understanding of how fish and wildlife species use the landscape. As proposed, Planning 2.0 would better enable the BLM to manage for modern challenges and opportunities, by balancing resource development with habitat and recreation, allowing for the conservation of intact habitats and migration corridors, and providing for high-quality dispersed recreation, like hunting and fishing.
Now is your chance to help see these important changes integrated into BLM lands use planning. Take action today to ensure a positive future for fish and wildlife and your sporting heritage on America’s public lands.
6 Responses to “Sportsmen, Here’s Your Chance to Help Shape Future Use of BLM Lands”
These lands should be left alone. Business interests should keep out of the public lands – they belong to the American people. Do not hunt on public lands: public lands are sanctuaries for our wildlife and the last foothold of the planet. Leave it be for future generations to admire.
I personally think that the BLM should turn down all requests for coal and fossil fuel production and mining on our public lands. These lands were conserved to protect vital habitat for wildlife, not to be torn apart by drilling. Also wildlife migration corridors should if not already be installed to ensure safe travel for wintering wildlife.
these lands should be manageed by the states. the local hunters,ranchers and states know more what is needed than the Federal government. as aan example they shut down oil drilling in Jan is wyo. for shage grouse nesting and no bird in his right mind does anything in Jan in Wyo. Washington should sttay out of these issues.
Here in Washington state. The blm has gated so many roads that we use to get to areas where we used to hunt mushrooms, and other pursuits. I’m not so sure they are the best ones to manage the land. I believe that they need to take a long look at that policy. The BLM lets logging company’s come in and harvest the timber and than close of the gates. that is not right as it is our land and we should be able to use it. The excuse they use is that people dup garbage and they don’t have the funds to clean it up. Only our government officials can straighten this out, but they to have to many self interest in graft and corruption for themselves to do anything. maybe that is why our election is going in the direction it is. We need to clean house.
I respectfully disagree with the above comments. BLM lands are and should be managed as multiple use lands. They were not set aside as wildlife habitat but are available to the American people for any number of uses. Mining, timber and grazing are allowable uses and should continue to managed in conjunction with Fish and Wildlife habitat. BUT these uses should be strictly managed to best conserve the lands they occupy. Grazing is especially sensitive in riparian and areas of special concern with high values for certain species. I also disagree with the statement that ranchers and state know best. I’ve seen way too many situations where the states or locals have sacrificed our public lands for short term profits using highly disruptive management. And I don’t trust the States to manage these lands as well as the fed currently do. Not that federal management can’t improve. I would highly recommend a congressional rewrite of the Equal Access to Justice Act to preclude the many lawsuits generated that keep our highly skilled land managers from using their best management practices on our public lands. The EAJA has many unintended consequences that are paralyzing our planning processes on BLM and other public lands. NEPA is also in need of an overhaul so that all our public lands are managed in a similar manner. I fully support the BLM professionals who manage our Dept of Interior lands.
For decades, our ‘public lands’ like our National Forests have been used for intense logging (The Tongass, in SE Alaska); mining, and grazing of livestock in the west, AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE, with negative financial gain for the American Government (us). While BLM land is different than Dept. of Interior Forest or range lands; the concept is similar. Name a mining operation that has NEVER polluted; drilling? I suspect there are none. Lets keep as much of our BLM land as wild and ‘natural’ as we can, yet use it for hunting, fishing, photography, hiking, camping, education and research (such as archeological, paleontological digs); outdoor camps for disabled citizens; possible wind power or solar power generation where feasible if it does NOT impact the natural landscape and wildlife. Would that be possible? Why the question survey? Is there a threat from corporate interests?