The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today released an update on a bureauwide initiative that is helping the agency evaluate and respond to public land issues such as wildfire, energy development, and climate change while continuing to promote the smart use of the public lands. The initiative, called the Landscape Approach for Managing the Public Lands, looks for ecological conditions, patterns, and management opportunities that may not be evident when managing smaller land areas.
“The stewardship of public lands has never been more challenging.” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “To meet these challenges, we need an approach that crosses traditional management boundaries while managing wildfire, controlling weeds and insect outbreaks, providing for energy development, and addressing impacts from climate change.”
The approach will help the BLM respond to an increasing demand for the use of the public lands for recreation and energy development. Recreation and energy development often support local economies in the West. In FY 2011, activities on BLM-managed lands boosted the National economy by more than $130 billion and supported more than a half-million jobs.
The BLM recognizes that evaluating broad landscapes, such as the Central Basin and Range -NV, CA, UT and a portion of ID, will be more effective than relying only on conditions at the field office level. This new approach results in better decisions because BLM employees understand how their work fits into the larger geographic area.
Many BLM field offices are already conducting large-scale resource assessments, planning across watersheds and jurisdictions, and working with partners to address landscape-scale restoration needs. These efforts recognize that landscapes are being affected by complex influences that reach beyond traditional management boundaries. The landscape approach builds upon, connects, and supports these ongoing field efforts. This approach also complements and supports the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives the Department of the Interior is helping establish throughout the country. Information collected under the initiative will be used for long-term conservation, restoration, and development efforts, including partnerships.
“With the landscape approach, reliable information will flow across programmatic, organizational, land ownership, and political boundaries,” Abbey said. “As a result, we will improve our ability to evaluate and respond to all types of land health concerns, and help us in our mission to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands.”
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of Americas public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.