UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Washington, DC 20240
 
July 25, 2011
 
In Reply Refer To:
6300 (170) P         
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 07/26/2011
Instruction Memorandum No. 2011-154       
Expires: 09/30/2012   
 
To:                  All Washington Office and Field Office Officials
 
From:              Director
 
Subject:          Requirement to Conduct and Maintain Inventory Information for Wilderness Characteristics and to Consider Lands with Wilderness Characteristics in Land Use Plans
                                                                       
Program Area:  Wilderness Resources Management, Land Use Planning, and National Environmental Policy Act.
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) directs offices to continue to conduct and maintain inventories regarding the presence or absence of wilderness characteristics, and to consider identified lands with wilderness characteristics in land use plans and when analyzing projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This IM places Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Manuals 6301, 6302, and 6303 into abeyance until further notice.
 
Policy/Action: Section 201 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) requires the BLM to maintain on a continuing basis an inventory of all public lands and their resources and other values. This inventory requirement includes maintaining information regarding wilderness characteristics.  Section 201 also provides that the preparation and maintenance of the inventory shall not, of itself, change or prevent change of the management or use of the lands. The attached Wilderness Characteristics Inventory policy provides the BLM with guidance on how to conduct and maintain an inventory for wilderness characteristics (Attachment 1).
 
Section 202 of FLPMA requires BLM to rely on resource inventories in the development and revision of land use plans, including inventory information regarding wilderness characteristics. Consistent with FLPMA and other applicable authorities, the BLM will continue to consider the wilderness characteristics on public lands as part of its multiple-use mandate in developing and revising land use plans and when making subsequent project level decisions. In accordance with NEPA, BLM offices must analyze the potential effects of proposed actions and alternatives for land use plan decisions on lands with wilderness characteristics when they are present. The attached policy, Consideration of Lands with Wilderness Characteristics in the Land Use Planning Process, provides direction for land use planning for identified lands with wilderness characteristics (Attachment 2).
 
Timeframe: Effective Immediately
 
Budget Impact: None
 
Background: On December 22, 2010, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior issued Order 3310 to address the BLM’s management of wilderness resources under its jurisdiction and to use the land use planning process to designate certain lands with wilderness characteristics as “Wild Lands.” On April 14, 2011, the United States Congress passed the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act (Public Law 112-10) (2011 CR), which includes a provision (Section 1769) that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order 3310 in Fiscal Year 2011. 
 
Following the 2011 CR, BLM offices have expressed uncertainty regarding how to comply with Sections 201 and 202 of FLPMA with respect to wilderness characteristics, i.e., how to conduct and maintain inventories regarding wilderness characteristics and how to consider lands with wilderness characteristics in the development and revision of land use plans.  On June 1, 2011, the Secretary issued a memorandum to the BLM Director that in part affirms BLM’s obligations relating to wilderness characteristics under Sections 201 and 202 of FLPMA. This IM further clarifies that the requirements of Sections 201 and 202 of FLPMA remain in effect. It also provides guidance on how to conduct and maintain wilderness characteristics inventories and provides guidance on how to consider lands with wilderness characteristics in the land use planning process.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: Manuals 6301, 6302 and 6303 dated February 25, 2011 are placed in abeyance until further notice. 
 
Coordination: This policy was developed by the Division of the National Landscape Conservation System and the Division of Decision Support, Planning and NEPA.
 
Contact: If there are any questions concerning this IM, please contact Dave Harmon, Senior Wilderness Specialist, Division of the National Landscape Conservation System 202-912-7177 or Sam Gaugush, Planning and Environmental Analyst, Division of Decision Support, Planning and NEPA, 202-912-7217.
 
 
Signed by:                                            Authenticated by:
Robert V. Abbey                                   Robert M. Williams
Director                                                Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
 
 
2 Attachments