BLM proposes rule aimed at improving resource management process

The US Bureau of Land Management proposed a rule aimed at improving its resource management process. The proposed regulations are part of the US Department of the Interior agency’s Planning 2.0 initiative, which it launched in May 2014. Comments will be accepted for 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register in the next few days.

The proposal will make changes to regulations that are guided by the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), BLM said. The original regulations were first completed in 1979 and later revised in 1983 and 2005, it noted.

Essentially, said BLM, the proposed rule would:

• Establish several new opportunities for early public involvement during the planning process.

• Require development of a planning assessment before work could begin on putting together a land use plan.

• Improve BLM’s ability to use high-quality information, including the best available science and geospatial data, when it develops plans and implements future actions.

• Provide the flexibility to plan across traditional administrative boundaries, and give BLM’s director discretion to determine future resource management plan boundaries.

• Distinguish between plan components that are mandatory and with which all future decisions must be consistent, and optional implementation strategies that are not plan components but may help guide its implementation.

• Revise the protest procedures to provide more detailed information on what constitutes a valid protest issue and for consistency with new terminology. The proposed rule also would provide electronic methods for submitting protests, BLM said.

• Reaffirm FLPMA’s policy guidance requiring public lands management for multiple use and sustained yield, including a definition of the sustained yield concept emphasizing this public land management tenant.

BLM said it also plans to schedule public meetings, including a webinar, to provide an overview of the proposed regulation changes along with a question and answer session that will be announced separately. It also will consult with Indian tribes on this issue.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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