The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed a rule designed to “protect public lands.” It is as convoluted and confusing to read as most government proposals. But you should try to get through it so you understand as much as you can about what BLM is trying to accomplish. Then you can weigh in about what it might mean to you and your recreational or professional activities.
The proposed rule would define land health as “the condition of a land unit that sustains its ecological processes, functions, and services, and supports the biological diversity of native plants and animals.”
The BLM’s proposed rule
In a large nutshell, the BLM has proposed a rule that would clarify the agency’s commitment to conservation and landscape health. The rule is currently open for public comment. It establishes a set of land health standards to guide the BLM’s management of public lands.
The proposed rule would define land health as “the condition of a land unit that sustains its ecological processes, functions, and services, and supports the biological diversity of native plants and animals.” The rule would then establish a set of standards for assessing land health, including the following:
- The condition of native plant and animal communities
- The presence of invasive species
- The condition of water resources
- The presence of air pollution
- The condition of soil resources
- The presence of hazardous waste
The proposed rule also requires the BLM to develop a plan for each land unit that identifies the actions needed to improve land health. These actions could include restoring native plant communities, removing invasive species, improving water quality, or reducing air pollution.
The public can comment on the proposed rule until June 13, 2023. To learn more about the rule or to submit a comment, you can visit the Federal Register.
What does the rule mean for you?
The proposed rule could have a significant impact on the way the BLM manages public lands. If adopted, the rule could lead to increased conservation efforts on public lands, which could benefit or interfere with a variety of stakeholders.
- Environmentalists: The rule could help to protect endangered species and other sensitive habitats.
- Recreationists: The rule could lead to improved water quality and air quality, which could make public lands more enjoyable for recreationists. But it also could mean shutting down access to areas deemed “at risk” by the BLM.
- Ranchers: The rule could help to reduce the spread of invasive species, which could benefit livestock grazing. But it also could mean that ranchers would lose access to grazing lands they currently use.
- Miners: The rule could help to ensure that mining activities are conducted in a way that protects the environment. But it also could mean mining would be curtailed in some areas currently accessible to miners.
The proposed rule is still in development, and it is important to stay informed about the process. Remember, you can learn more about the rule and how to submit a comment via the Federa Register.