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Evening light on the Cady Mountains, CA by John Dittli

Threat to BLM’s New Planning Approach

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cares for 15,364,864 acres (24,007 square-miles) here in California on behalf of the American people. That is a little over 14% of our state. These lands provide critically important wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, scenic vistas, and places where we can ride horses, hike, take scenic drives, fish, use off-road vehicles, mountain bike, hunt, camp, swim, picnic, etc. These lands belong to all of the American people, and they are among California’s greatest treasures.

All BLM lands are managed according to documents called “resource management plans” (RMP). These plans are developed with public input and they are used by the BLM to decide which public lands will be protected for wildlife habitat and public recreation and which areas will be logged, mined, explored for oil development, etc. In 2016 the BLM approved new rules, called “Planning 2.0,” that guide how these RMPs are crafted.

The rules are designed to:

(1) encourage extensive public input and collaboration

  • By increasing participation on the front end of these processing, the effect will be to reduce the amount of litigation at the end because those groups that are likely to sue have already been included in the process.
  • The public will help develop plans with many opportunities for involvement, including more electronic methods of commenting and participating
  • The process will still rely on local, state and tribal entities to be “cooperating agencies”. This means participation that is even deeper than that of the general public including information sharing, helping to draft alternativees, and direct meetings with the BLM.

(2) Use of best available science for decision, including the requirement that climate change be a major consideration in BLM planning

  • Planning 2.0 will make high quality data a foundation for BLM planning and management, incorporating the best quality science, geospatial data and technology.
  • Planning 2.0 permits a landscape-level approach to planning, which enables the BLM to carry out planning at a scale that makes sense and allows consideration of the full context of resource values, including environmental, economic, and social values.

Planning 2.0 has the support of many hunters and anglers because the rule takes steps to ensure that important habitats, such as migration corridors and other intact habitats, are identified early in the planning process so these important areas can be managed and conserved as the agency makes decisions about other public land uses.

BLM plans that have already begun using the 2.0 rule have received positive comments about the rule from a diversity of voices including: Back Country Horsemen of America, Bob Marshall Wilderness Outfitters, grazing lessees, The Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon Society, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, Missoula Snowgoers Snowmobile Association, Montana Wilderness Association, Paws Up Ranch, Seeley/Swan ATV Club, mining claimants, and the Bonita/Clinton/Potomac Grazing Association.

The Threat

Any time an agency publishes a new rule, it triggers a short period (60 session days) during which Congress can issue a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Because the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule was finalized in the last 60 days of the Obama Administration, the rule is susceptible to the CRA.

The CRA is a process that undermines the will of the American people. All proposed federal rules undergo a rigorous review process that can take years, including multiple opportunities for the public to weigh in. Planning 2.0 is no different. The BLM is simply implementing its mission as laid out by Congress.

Utilizing the CRA is an extremely unusual tool that has only been successfully once since 1996. Two major things happen if the CRA is successful:

1.  The entire Planning 2.0 Rule is void and BLM must continue to use an outdated rule from the 1980s; and

2.  BLM will be prohibited from issuing another, similar rule ever again.

This land belongs to the American people and it’s only nature that the future of the land is determined by the American public. Please help us by taking action today.