WASHINGTON—In a major step toward improving protection of nature on millions of acres throughout the U.S., the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today issued a draft “Public Lands Rule” intended to better balance conservation with other uses on BLM lands. Historically, BLM policy has favored mining, oil and gas exploration, and other development over conservation and outdoor recreation. The draft rule also provides an opportunity for the agency, which oversees 245 million acres, to effectively steward these lands in the face of the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. BLM will issue a final rule after reviewing input received during the public comment period.
Marcia Argust, director of Pew’s U.S. public lands and rivers conservation project, issued this statement:
“This policy initiative is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve how the nation’s largest land manager conserves important watersheds and wildlife habitat for decades to come. A final rule must reflect the wide range of benefits that Bureau of Land Management lands provide by putting their protection on an equal footing with other uses, including energy development, timber harvesting, and mining. Since its inception almost 80 years ago, the agency has prioritized development over conservation. The draft rule is a start to change this dynamic, but the final rule will need to be significantly strengthened. Pew will continue to advocate for a final rule that is durable and that provides for balanced management of landscapes.”