The Healthy Lands Initiative is a major vegetation resources enhancement initiative to restore and improve the health and productivity of western public lands. The Healthy Lands strategy increases the effectiveness and efficiencies of vegetation enhancement treatments by focusing on treatments on a significant percentage of lands – both Federal and non-Federal – within six geographic locations, rather than focusing on the local project level. The strategy increases opportunities to leverage cooperative solutions across ownerships and jurisdictions.
The lands in Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Colorado
were selected because they encompass critical sage grouse habitat or other important wildlife habitat in the wildlife - energy interface. Restoring sage grouse habitat is crucial because the greater sage grouse habitat ranges across 10 states covering more than 100 million acres, with 64 percent of the acreage under federal management.
Treating wildlife habitat in the wildlife-energy interface is important because BLM is clearly at a national crossroads for restoring habitats for a variety of species in a manner that keeps pace with the country’s energy needs and demands. Smaller scale, project-by-project approaches are unlikely to be sufficient for much longer. Energy production on BLM lands provides 5 percent of our nation’s oil, 18 percent of our nation’s gas and 44 percent of our nation’s coal.
The Healthy Lands Initiative of 2008 is a dramatic change from current practices because of the larger scope and faster pace of the habitat improvement efforts and the more intensive involvement of partners and other landowners. Increased funding and work with partners allows the BLM to:
- Concentrate a large number of treatments in each emphasis area, resulting in a significant amount of improved habitat in an entire watershed or landscape-wide area in three to five years, rather than the typical 10 to 15 years based on standard funding levels.
- Leverage partnership funding at unprecedented levels –an estimated $10 million dollars.
- Establish or enhance existing partnerships with adjoining landowners, so that a large percent of landowners in the area (Federal or non-Federal) treat their lands.
- Reduce BLM’s overall unit cost due to lower costs per acre from large scale projects.
Overall, the initiative allows BLM to do substantially more in substantially less time due to the significant funding increase. Focusing a significant amount of funds in each of these six areas to quickly improve most or the majority of the acres in a watershed or very large landscape area will:
- Prevent weeds from spreading;
- Prevent the spread of insect infestations that harm native habitat;
- Keep habitat suitable so that wide-ranging species can flourish; and
- Prevent species from being listed.
BLM National Healthy Lands Initiative Fact Sheets