Final public lands rule a win for outdoor recreation and conservation

April 18, 2024

Outdoor Alliance

Today, the BLM released its final Public Lands Rule, which will help the agency sustainably manage 245 million acres of public lands over the coming decades. The final rule is a thoughtful and much needed update for BLM’s management planning that could have profound benefits for the outdoor recreation community. The rule needs public support – take action here.

BLM lands are home to outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities, many of them offering a freedom of travel and exploration that are unique on our public lands. BLM lands are also under more stress than ever. Climate change, the demands of a transition to renewable energy, and growing recreational use will add to the stresses from uses like mining, grazing, and energy development. Unprecedented drought, increasingly intense fires, wildlife loss, and invasive species are affecting BLM lands and our outdoor recreation experiences on them. Outdoor recreation is growing in popularity, and visits to BLM lands are increasing. And as the country shifts toward clean energy, BLM lands will need to support solar development, renewable energy, and transmission.

The Public Lands Rule, out today, is an effort by BLM to put conservation on an equal footing with other uses of public land and make sure that BLM can achieve its multiple-use mandate into the future.

The final rule helps protect important landscapes through the designation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and protections for intact landscapes; helps guide restoration and development activities; and establishes new tools for restoration and mitigation leasing, which will help improve the health of public lands and ensure compensation for development impacts on recreation resources.

“BLM lands are invaluable for the millions of Americans who recreate on public lands each year. The final Public Lands Rule will benefit the human-powered outdoor recreation community by ensuring these landscapes are managed for the long term,” sad Outdoor Alliance CEO Adam Cramer.  “The rule offers needed updates that will help BLM lands thrive in the face of increasing demands and a changing climate. We are grateful for the hard work from BLM leadership to create the rule, and look forward to helping the agency implement it for the benefit of all Americans.”

The Public Lands Rule is an important part of a suite of BLM actions–including the recently-released oil and gas rules and planning for utility-scale solar development–that affect an incredibly forward-looking reset in the management of BLM lands. These actions reflect a recognition that climate change and changes in expectations from Americans with regard to their public lands demand a change in how our lands are managed. A transition to renewable energy will require additional development activities, but it’s essential that projects be thoughtfully sited, cognizant of other values like recreation and conservation.

Our organizations strongly support BLM’s efforts through the proposed rule to ensure the health of our country’s public lands, which are the essential settings for the outdoor recreation activities that support our organizations’ constituencies.

Unfortunately, even before the release of the final rule, some members of Congress have been agitating to block BLM from taking action to conserve public lands. A bill from Rep. Curtis (R-UT) blocking the rule passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee last year, and Sen. Barrasso (R-WY) has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. It’s essential that your members of Congress–on both sides of the aisle–hear from constituents that they support the rule.

Learn more here.

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