BLM envisions 25-year management vision change towards ‘Treasured Landscapes’
Proposes turning half of BLM land portfolio into conserved lands for the enjoyment of future generations
by Pinedale Online!
September 20, 2010
The secret "NOT FOR RELEASE" Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Internal Draft document on Treasured Landscapes recently came available. In it, the BLM says, over the next 25 years, it intends to convert about half of its total land portfolio into "Treasured Landscape" status, guaranteeing these landscapes are conserved for the enjoyment of future generations.
"With the appropriate vision, the BLM can rededicate itself to the preservation of the irreplaceable cultural and historic resources in its charge, and to the effective management and conservation its treasured public lands. In doing so, it will honor the values of today’s public and inspire the hopes of future generations."
The 21-page Internal BLM draft document "Our Vision, Our Values" discusses ways the BLM would like to convert up to 140 million of the 264 million acres it currently manages into treasured landscapes to be managed as ecosystems for habitat conservation, and preservation of their historical, cultural and paleontological significance. These lands are "roughly equivalent in size to Colorado and Wyoming combined."
Over the next 25 years, the BLM intends to:
(1) Finalize appropriate conservation designations and fully account for the ecosystem services values of its lands;
(2) Rationalize and consolidate its fragmented landholdings; and
(3) Commit to planning and allocating resources and resource uses and at their natural scales, in effective coordination with other Federal, State, and Tribal governments.
The BLM proposes the Administration support Congressional efforts to expand the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) through the designation of new National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers and Historic Trails. "Designation efforts should not be focused solely in the West, but should also include areas in the rest of the country that warrant such protection."
The BLM proposes using Eco-Regional Assessments and coordinating with other Federal, State and Tribal Governments to manage wildlife, watersheds, airsheds and ecosystems. The BLM’s Treasured-Landscapes vision emphasizes connectivity and the agency’s commitment to "manage at a level appropriate to the issues under consideration."
The BLM says, with its extensive experience in public participation and land-use planning, it stands ready with the expertise and unparalleled capacity to coordinate with other agencies "to tackle initiatives on a national (and even international) scale." The BLM hopes to help "lead the charge" to focus on cross-jurisdictional landscape connectivity and to create extensive wildlife-habitat corridors being impacted by ongoing global climate change.
The document says the BLM manages nearly 12.7 million acres which has been identified as potentially appropriate for wilderness designation and says the Treasured Landscape initiative would benefit greatly if Congress would make a final determination as to the permanent status of these lands. "As a critical part of the BLM’s conservation agenda, the BLM proposed working closely with the Administration and Congress to determine whether other public lands are suitable for management as National Conservation Areas."
The BLM proposes that new conservation designations should not be the only, or even primary, means of managing for conservation on BLM’s public lands. To that end, the BLM recommends emphasizing conservation values in its land-use planning process. "Better accounting for the value of public lands left in a condition closer to the land’s natural state-whether measured in the amount of carbon sequestered by a stand of trees or native grasslands, by the economic value to local communities of undisturbed ecosystems natural purification of air or water, or by the number of jobs retained as a result of recreation opportunities saved in an area closed to development – is designed to allow land-use decisionmakers to act with a fuller knowledge of the trade-offs involved in the choice to conserve an existing landscape, or permit new development."
With regards specifically to special circumstances in Wyoming and Alaska, the document states, "The BLM therefore particularly proposes that the Administration use the BLM’s land-use planning process to identify the management actions, including possible mineral withdrawals, necessary to protect sensitive resources in Wyoming and Alaska. The BLM also recommends that the Administration begin a dialogue with Congress to encourage the conservation of these areas."
The BLM projects its anticipated funding needs from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to increase from $14,775,000 in 2009 to $60,000,000+ in 2012 to over $75 million every year from 2013 through 2020. "Implementing BLM’s three-part Treasured Landscape vision will require an increased investment of resources" the internal document states. They recommend funding increases be phased in over a 5-year period so the BLM can hire more staff, develop partnerships, and process requisitions in order to accomplish the increased workload.
In the Appendix of the document, the BLM lists specific lands in Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Washington and Alaska that it recommends worth of protection through various mechanisms. Included from Wyoming would be a focus on private land purchases to conserving large private ranches in the Upper Green River Valley – from the Wyoming Range to the Wind River Range, to benefit sage grouse, big game species and the path of the pronghorn antelope.
Click here to read the full Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management Treasured Landscapes Discussion Paper (21 page PDF)