As the nation’s largest land manager, we need the BLM’s bold leadership and action to address the climate and biodiversity crisis and ensure the healthy future of our economies, environment, and way-of-life. The BLM can safeguard wildlife corridors, restore damaged landscapes, and protect our remaining wildlands today - they just need the will to act!
There is broad support across the West and the nation for the BLM to embrace conservation and take bold action. To learn more about the conservation vision people share for the West and lands managed by the BLM, explore the links below:
Western Voter Support for Conservation
Winning the West 2022 Poll – The Center for Western Priorities latest poll shows conservation issues are extremely important to western voters.
Elected Official Support for BLM Action
Seven-Senators Wilderness Study Area (WSA) Letter to Sec. Haaland – Senators call on the Secretary of Interior to push for more BLM conservation.
Sen. Padilla and Rep. Huffman Letter to BLM State Director California Senator and Representative call for more BLM administrative protections as part of planning processes.
Congresswoman Degette’s Scoping Letter - Dean of Colorado delegation pushes for more BLM protections in new planning process
Mountain Pact Local Elect Official Letter of Support – Over 120 present and past western local elected officials call for more protection of BLM managed lands.
Colorado local elected official letter to state director – Local elected officials want new BLM resource management plans to prioritize conservation.
Business Support for BLM Action
Outdoor Business Support letter – Outdoor industry companies want more conservation action by the BLM.
Colorado Outdoor Business Op-ed – Colorado’s outdoor economy is dependent on protected BLM Lands.
New Mexico Outdoor Business Op-ed – Protected BLM lands are critical to New Mexico’s outdoor industry.
Communities Support for BLM Conservation
Navajo Nation Utah Commission Resolution - The Navajo Utah Commission calls for more WSA protections to ensure Biden administration reaches 30x30 goals.
Land, Latinos, and FLPMA: We Demand Protections for Wilderness Study Areas – There is strong support across the latinx community for protecting BLM lands.
Conservation Community Support for BLM Action
Arizona Conservation Organization Letter to State Director - BLM has the authority to protect Arizona’s most valuable wildlands.
Grand Canyon Chapter of Sierra Club Letter to State Director - Protected BLM lands are critical to Arizona and these areas must be prioritized.
California/Nevada Sierra Club Committee Letter to State Director - California has made significant commitments to conservation, to succeed it needs the BLM to “go big!”
Montana Chapter of Sierra Club Letter to State Director - BLM in Montana should prioritize recommended wilderness and new Wilderness Study Areas.
Toiyabe Chapter of Sierra Club Letter to State Director (Link here/Doc attached) - Nevada BLM needs to designate more Wilderness Study Areas to ensure the state's cultural resources and native species.
Media Coverage on the Need for Bold BLM Action
Greenwire: Senate Dems: More Wilderness Study Areas – Senators want more bold conservation from the BLM.
Grand Junction Sentinel - Public Lands Conservation Lagging in West - Conservationists call for quicker conservation action.
KJZZ - BLM Could Play a Major Role in America the Beautiful
THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!
As the largest land manager in the nation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a critical role to play in implementing the America the Beautiful initiative if the administration is going to reach its ambitious conservation goals of protecting more of our nation’s lands and waters. The BLM manages 245 million acres of land largely spread across 12 western states. Protecting these lands in their natural, undeveloped condition is crucial to combating the effects of climate change. Across the West, these lands provide real, quantifiable carbon sequestration and climate adaptation benefits and also serve to conserve scarce water resources. They serve as critical climate refugia for wildlife species and play a vital role in ensuring habitat connectivity across the West. They are in short the heart of the America the Beautiful initiative and their protection should be prioritized by the administration.
The BLM has existing tools and authorities that it must begin using more widely across the West to accelerate the scope and pace of conservation. Guided by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), these policies and regulations enable the agency to better restore, conserve, and protect national public lands. Two of the most important tools managed by the BLM under FLPMA are Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs), and it’s time for the BLM to boldly use these tools to help address the climate and biodiversity crisis.
WSAs are BLM’s most durable and important administrative designation. The designation ensures wilderness character is maintained on identified public lands, protecting the agency’s wildest places, irreplaceable cultural resources, native species, and world class recreation until Congress has a chance to act and decide whether they deserve permanent protection. There are more than 29 million acres of BLM-identified LWCs in the lower 48 states that are eligible for WSA designation and millions more acres of community-identified LWCs that should be considered for designation. To truly address the climate and biodiversity crisis and protect our water resources, the BLM must embrace and use this tool to protect more public lands.
ACECs are perhaps the most versatile tool the BLM has at its disposal. FLPMA directs the BLM to give priority to the designation and protection of ACECs. These are places where special management attention is required to protect and prevent irreparable damage to important historic, cultural, or scenic values, fish and wildlife resources, or other natural systems or processes. For decades, this designation has gone largely unrealized, with inconsistent identification, designation, and management. To this day there are no national standards or regulations that define what protection means for individual ACECs leading to poor management that in many instances renders the designation meaningless. BLM should address this problem immediately and implement clear regulations that ensure ACECs are truly protected. There are currently over 1,000 ACECs comprising over 20 million acres in the United States. FLPMA requires the BLM to prioritize the protection and designation of ACECs as part of their planning processes and if the administration is going to reach its conservation goals, they have to direct the BLM to meet this requirement.
In addition to WSAs and ACECs, BLM’s toolbox is full of other useful management tools that should also be more frequently used to meet the conservation goals set by the Biden administration. Other key conservation tools the administration could use through the administrative process include:
● Backcountry Conservation Areas (BCAs) can be managed to conserve intact wildlife habitats and support high quality wildlife-dependent recreation.
● Wildlife Migration Corridors can be established through coordination with states to enhance and improve the quality of big-game winter range and migration corridor habitat on Federal lands under the management jurisdiction in a way that recognizes state authority to conserve and manage big-game species and respects private property rights.
● Wild and Scenic Rivers can be identified by the BLM as eligible and suitable for further protection through the Resource Management Planning (RMP) process.
The BLM must aggressively use these tools if they are going to help the Biden Administration and Western states achieve their conservation goals.