Barrasso and Gordon Fire on BLM’s New Public Lands Rule

Barrasso and Gordon Fire on BLM’s New Public Lands Rule

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CHEYENNE – Sen. John Barrasso and Gov. Mark Gordon are not happy with an announcement the Bureau of Land Management has made regarding its Public Lands Rule.

The BLM issued a statement Thursday about the Biden Administration’s strategy for conservation and balanced development on public lands. According to the BLM, more than 200,000 comments were received from various stakeholders, with the final plan aiming to give the BLM tools to improve the health and resilience of public lands while facilitating responsible development and improving recognition of the cultural and natural resources found on public lands.

The final rule directs the BLM to manage for landscape health, directing the BLM manage public land usage according to the management fundamentals supporting land health, ecosystems providing for healthy populations of plants and animals, and wildlife habitats on public lands protecting threatened and endangered species consistent with multiple use and sustained yield framework. 

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Additionally, the agency says the rule provides a mechanism for restoring and protecting public lands through restoration and mitigation leases, which aim to restore degraded lands. Those leases would be limited to qualified individuals and groups such as businesses, non-governmental organizations, Tribal governments, conservation districts, or state fish and wildlife agencies. The BLM says those leases won’t be issued if they would conflict with existing authorized uses.

Finally, the rule clarifies the designation and management of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, also known as ACECs. The BLM says the rule provides greater detail about how it will follow direction in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act  to prioritize designation and protection of ACECs, while clarifying how consideration of new ACEC nominations and temporary management options won’t interfere with BLM discretion to continue advancing pending project applications. 

Barrasso said he will work to remove the rule in a statement his office issued Tuesday.

“The people of Wyoming depend on access to public lands for their livelihoods – including energy and mineral production, grazing, and recreation. With this rule, President Biden is allowing federal bureaucrats to destroy our way of life. Senator John Hoeven and I will introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal this outrageous rule,” Barrasso said.

Gordon also voiced his displeasure with the rule in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

“It appears that Wyoming’s comments – and those from our people who depend on public lands for their livelihoods – were completely overlooked,” Gordon said. “The Biden Administration’s contorted interpretation of multiple use under the Federal Land Policy Management Act and the BLM’s authorities will completely upend economies across the West – including grazing, recreation, and energy.” 

Gordon defends Wyoming’s work in wildlife and habitat management, saying he supports Barrasso’s work to remove the rule.

“Wyoming takes immense pride in our wildlife and habitat management and expertise,” he said.. “With Wyoming’s voice, authorities, and management efforts as well as the standard of multiple use disregarded, I wholeheartedly support Senator Barrasso’s efforts to withdraw this rule in the U.S. Senate.”

Gordon also targeted the rule’s restoration and mitigation leases as a “disingenuous attempt to shift perception.”

“Renaming the rule the ‘Public Lands Rule’ from its earlier incarnation as the ‘Conservation and Landscape Health Rule’ or calling ‘conservation leases’ ‘mitigation’ and ‘restoration’ leases reflects the BLM’s disingenuous attempt to shift perception surrounding this rule. It completely disregards the public’s rejection of the Administration’s efforts to force the ’30 x 30′ initiative down our throats.”

However, the BLM and Biden Administration view the rule as something coming to help address the growing pressures and challenges. The BLM says the impacts of climate change, including prolonged drought, wildfires and the introduction of invasive species are posing additional risks to ecosystems communities and wildlife rely on. The agency says the rule will help the BLM address changing conditions seen on public lands while utilizing those lands as economic drivers throughout the western United States.