Congress Cuts Public’s Role In Bureau of Land Management
Sportsmen look to Secretary Zinke to restore public’s voice in Bureau of Land Management’s land-use planning process
Yesterday, U.S. Senators voted to nullify the Bureau of Land Management’s revised land-use planning rule, commonly known as Planning 2.0.
This rule gave the public more chances to weigh in on land management decisions for 245 million acres of BLM public lands. The House passed a similar resolution using the Congressional Review Act on February 7.
President Trump’s signature on this action will revert BLM planning to a decades-old process. It may prevent the agency from creating a new rule that has the same benefits for habitat and public involvement. Planning 2.0 was the product of more than two years of collaboration between the agency, state and local governments, and the public.
Hard work going to waste, say sportsmen
“Hunters and anglers are puzzled by the fact that Congress would choose to destroy a refined and more inclusive public lands management process,” says Joel Webster, director of Western lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Perhaps some additional fine-tuning could have further improved BLM planning, but this CRA action is the equivalent of burning down the house simply because some window trim needed replacing. It’s an overreaction with real-world consequences for fish, wildlife, and the American people.”
Nineteen sportsmen’s groups wrote Congress in support of Planning 2.0 revisions that created three additional opportunities for the public and key collaborators—like state and local governments—for involvement at the front-end of the land-use planning process.
Planners designed these additional steps to increase agency transparency and public involvement. These benefits would boost overall satisfaction with the management of BLM public lands across the country.
“It is tragic to see so much hard work and public input go to waste, only to be replaced with uncertainty,” says Steven Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute. “Meanwhile, the agency will continue to struggle in using an outdated, ineffective planning process to deal with modern-day challenges on public lands.”
Consideration for big game migration corridors and other planning tools that account for the most recent scientific data do not exist in the previous land-use planning rule, largely established in 1983. Hunters and anglers look to the newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, to find other ways of securing these benefits.
—courtesy Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership