A new proposed rule from the Bureau of Land Management seeks to realign the Bureau’s objective by placing environmental protection on a level playing field with the Bureau’s multiple-use mandate. According to the Bureau, the new regulation will establish conservation “on par” with the Bureau’s multiple-use mandate established by the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA).
“The BLM does not currently have regulations that promote conservation efforts for all resources. This proposed rule is intended to address this gap in the Bureau’s regulations. The proposed rule would require the BLM to plan for and consider conservation as a use on par with other uses under FLPMA’s multiple use framework and identify the practices that ensure conservation actions are effective in building resilient public lands.”Bureau of Land Management
The new rule will allow the Bureau to issue Conservation Leases for restoration, enhancement, and mitigation and will allow the closure of public lands during rehabilitation projects. Conservation leases will be issued on lands included in the National Conservation System, which includes National Monuments, National Scenic and Historic Trails, National Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Conservation, and other specially designated protected areas.
Conservation leases will be issued for a duration of time sufficient to meet the objectives of the lease. Leases issued for restoration and protection purposes would be issued for a term of up to ten years. Whereas, leases issued for mitigation will be issued for a term corresponding with the impact of which it is mitigating.
Under the new rule, the Bureau will be required to identify Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Intact Landscapes, Priority Watersheds, Priority Ecosystems, and Priority Landscapes, and will be required to develop and implement adaptive management strategies. The Bureau would be required to include a Restoration Plan for each identified area in every Resource Management Plan revision.
The Bureau will be prohibited from authorizing any use of public lands which permanently affects ecosystem resilience. Furthermore, the Bureau will be required to take a precautionary approach to public land use where impacts on ecosystem resilience are unknown, and where justification for impacts on ecosystem resilience cannot be quantified. Mitigation of important, scarce, and sensitive resources will be maximized to the fullest extent possible.
The proposed rule will also eliminate requirements mandating the Bureau to publish a notice in the Federal Register and accept public comments on the designation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and other unspecified land use decisions.
Take Action and Submit Your Comments!
The Bureau of Land Management is accepting comments from the public regarding this proposed action. Please voice your opinion!