Although the official deadline for public comments have passed, you can still submit a comment to continue to build strong opposition to this rule. Commenting before the deadline gives you legal standing but with a proposal of this magnitude the BLM should not stop hearing from those of us in opposition.
The proposed rule by the Bureau of Land Management to alter the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) is problematic for various reasons. BLM is mandated to manage public lands for multiple use and consider all uses in management decisions.
The proposed rule would codify conservation as a use on public lands, require BLM to prioritize designating Area’s of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC’s) and authorize conservation leases. Send a comment to the BLM below by July 5, 2023. Please include any personal experience or thoughts with your comment. You can read the full briefing of the proposed changes below.
Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) is the framework for multiple use on BLM managed public lands. As the law currently stands these uses are for conventional and renewable energy development, grazing, mining, timber harvest and recreation. The proposed rule would make conservation a legal use under FLPMA. BLM would then have to consider conservation on the same level they consider other previously authorized uses. There are already substantial laws that prioritize conservation though such as Clean Waters Act, Clean Air Act, Antiquities Act, Endangered and Threatened Species Act just to name a few. These changes will give extreme environmental groups one more tool to control public land and lock the public out of the land. Currently according to the BLM, “The conservation side of the BLM’s mission includes preserving specially designated landscapes, such as those comprising the 35 million-acre system of National Conservation Lands (including wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, national monuments, national conservation areas, historic trails, and wild and scenic rivers”. Substantial amounts of land are already being “conserved”. There are ample tools already to prioritize conservation however the tools in order to protect other uses such as recreation are minimal. It is clear this is a ploy to push the 30X30 agenda. The BLM needs to fully and completely analyze how the proposed changes will affect all other current legal uses.
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC’s) are notorious for having restrictive management which reduces or eliminates access for all users. At times recreation and access is still an allowable use within an ACEC however, there are also ACEC’s in which motorized access becomes restricted and prohibited sometimes creating barriers to private property even. By prioritizing designating ACEC’s on BLM land there is a potential to create more red tape and restrictions for access and motorized users.
The BLM only implements land health assessments and evaluations on grazing allotments as of now however if the rule is approved assessments and evaluations will be completed on other lands as well which will then be used in making decisions for management such as designating ACEC’s. “The proposed regulatory changes would emphasize ACECs as the principal designation for protecting important natural, cultural, and scenic resources”
Perhaps the most concerning portion of the proposed changes are the conservation leases that would be a new tool for BLM to use to conserve and protect public lands. “These leases would be available to entities seeking to restore public lands or provide mitigation for a particular action.” Entities would be able to apply for these leases for up to a ten year period, essentially selling of public lands to the highest bidder.
The proposed changes will give too much power to the BLM to lock up public land in the name of “conservation”. Please submit a comment and let the BLM know this is overstepping their bounds.
Comments are due July 5, 2023