Overwhelming Public Support for the Bureau of Land Management’s Public Lands Rule
Opposing industry groups skew purpose and impact of the rule which simply puts conservation on par with other uses
Washington, D.C. – This week the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed Public Lands Rule will be the subject of two important meetings: a House Natural Resources Oversight and Investigation Hearing on Wednesday, May 24th at 10:00am EST and the agency will hold its first in person public meeting to explain the rule in Denver, CO on Thursday, May 25th at 5:00pm MST.
The proposed rule puts conservation on par with other uses in management decisions for almost 250 million acres of the nation’s public lands. Currently, BLM public lands have a skewed management paradigm with 90% open to oil and gas development in the lower 48 states and a focus on commodity driven development.
Since the release of the proposed rule, opposition, mainly industry, have misrepresented the impact and intent of the proposed rule, while at the same time admitting the rule would restore balance. Non-partisan experts have debunked these claims, while legal scholars recently released a statement dispelling the claim that the rule is illegal or that conservation isn’t a “use.”
In reality, Westerners overwhelmingly support and want strong conservation policies for public lands. Retired BLM leaders, businesses, hunting and angling groups, local elected leaders and others across the west have come out in support of the proposed rule. Just this week, 80 local elected leaders from the State of Colorado came out in support of the rule.
Here’s what national organizations, industry leaders and retired BLM leadership have to say about the rule:
Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia said, “Our nation’s largest public lands agency, the Bureau of Land Management, has largely focused on resource extraction and commodity development for nearly 40 years,” said Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. “As the climate crisis worsens and nature disappears, the US government must prioritize the protection of land and water for future generations and Indigenous communities, and to conserve habitat for endangered species. Otherwise, we won’t have a planet worth living on.”
Danielle Murray, Senior Director at The Conservation Lands Foundation said, “While our nation’s public lands belong to everyone, industry wants to monopolize and control management, ultimately locking the public out of meaningful dialogue during planning. The proposed rule would put conservation on par with other uses and allow local input during the planning process. That’s it. There’s no grand conspiracy.”
John Gale, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, said “BLM’s proposed Public Lands Rule is promising to hunters and anglers who rely on healthy, intact landscapes to pursue fish and game. By implementing a holistic management vision that balances the broad array of diverse stakeholder needs while also establishing a focus on long-term habitat conservation, this framework gives local BLM managers the tools they need to manage for intact and resilient landscapes. Prioritizing active management prescriptions to tackle invasive species and the restoration of lands and waters through conservation leasing is a novel approach that will encourage partnerships and collaboration with local communities while ensuring public access – including hunting and fishing – is not compromised in any way.”
James Kenna, Retired California State Director Bureau of Land Management, and Conservation Lands Foundation Board Member said, “People who visit, and communities that live close to, Bureau of Land Management lands know they include some of the nation’s most important watersheds and habitat for wildlife and fish. They know the beauty of the scenic expanses and the cultural significance of those places. Laws calling for conservation on those lands have been on the books since the 1970s. It is an overdue and welcome step to see our national policies updated to help land managers ensure better on-the-ground conservation outcomes all across the West.”
Bailey Brennan, public lands attorney at the National Wildlife Federation said “The Bureau of Land Management’s statutory mandate has always been to manage public lands for multiple uses, including conservation, recreation, and cultural values. Unfortunately, too often this broad Congressional direction has been overshadowed by the urge to extract from these lands without much emphasis on the health of the ecosystems. This proposed rule is welcome news for fish and wildlife, sportsmen and women, rural economies, and all who love to spend time on these lands. It is also a chance for the Biden Administration to recommit to full co-management of these lands with the Tribal nations that have vast ecological knowledge in caring for these lands.”
Michael Carroll, BLM Campaign Director for The Wilderness Society said, “We encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming public meetings on the new Public Lands Rule, as this is a process that will better protect our nation’s water, wildlife and equitable access to the outdoors. The proposed rule brings balance to how the agency manages public lands, which provide critical resources that keep our communities healthy and thriving, especially in an era of climate change. For decades, the Bureau of Land Management has put priority on access to oil, gas and mining industries, without equal consideration for the natural and cultural values that support our collective well-being. It’s way past time for more balanced stewardship of our shared natural world.”
Camilla Simon, executive director of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors (HECHO) said, “For far too long, the agency tasked with stewarding more than 245 million acres has put a premium on resource extraction while wildlife, fragile watersheds, recreation, and the protection of cultural resources have taken second place. This new rule will modernize management priorities to help mitigate climate-related impacts, restore fragmented habitat, and expand opportunities to connect with nature. We look forward to working with the administration as it implements this plan — in coordination with Tribal and local partners — so that the health of the lands, waters and nearby communities are prioritized.”
Drew McConville, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress said “America’s public lands should be managed to enrich our lives and our communities for generations to come, not just to pad the bottom lines of wealthy companies at public expense. By proposing these long-overdue standards, the Biden administration can ensure that wildlife habitat, clean water, outdoor recreation opportunities, and Tribal cultural resources aren’t sacrificed to a broken system that values oil, gas, and minerals above all else. Delivering a strong BLM public lands rule is one of the most important steps President Biden can take to meet his commitment to conserve America’s lands and waters for future generations.”