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Paleontology Policy and Guidance
BLM Manual 8270 and BLM Handbook H-8270-1 contain the BLM's policy and guidance for the management of paleontological resources on public land. The manual has more information on the authorities and regulations related to paleontological resources. The Handbook gives procedures for permit issuance, requirements for qualified applicants, and information on paleontology and planning. The classification system for potential fossil-bearing geologic formations on public lands in the Handbook has been revised and replaced by the Potential Fossil Yield Classification (PFYC).
The manual and handbook will be revised after the new regulations are promulgated under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) of 2009. Until such time, the BLM will continue to follow the policy and guidelines in the manual and handbook that are not superseded by the PRPA.
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Potential Fossil Yield Classification (PFYC)
On October 15, 2007, BLM formalized the use of a new classification system for identifying fossil potential on public lands with the release of instruction memorandum, IM 2008-009 . The classification system is based on the potential for the occurrence of significant paleontological resources in a geologic unit, and the associated risk for impacts to the resource based on Federal management actions. It is intended to be applied in a broad approach for planning efforts, and as an intermediate step in evaluating specific projects. This IM is part of a larger effort to update the Handbook H-8270-1 (General Procedural Guidance for Paleontological Resource Management) Chapter III (Assessment & Mitigation) and Chapter II.A.2 and will be incorporated into that Handbook update. Click here for a pdf of the Instruction Memorandum.
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Assessment and Mitigation of Potential Impacts to Paleontological Resources
On October 10, 2008, the BLM introduced guidelines for assessing potential impacts to paleontological resources in order to determine mitigation steps for federal actions on public lands under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in instruction memorandum IM 2009-011 . In addition, this IM provides field survey and monitoring procedures to help minimize impacts to paleontological resources from federal actions in the case where it is determined that significant paleontological resources will be adversely affected by a federal action. IM 2009-011 together with the Potential Fossil Yield Classification system (PFYC; see IM 2008-009 ) will better protect paleontological resources impacted by federal actions.
The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) of 2009 is not a mitigation law for paleontological resources under the savings provisions at 16 U.S.C. 470aaa-10. The PRPA does not invalidate, modify, or impose any additional restrictions on use authorization under the mineral, mining, reclamation, and other land law. Therefore, the BLM will continue to protect paleontological resources under FLPMA, NEPA, the Mineral Leasing Act, and other applicable laws, regulations, and policies that protect natural resources.
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Confidentiality of Paleontological Localities
16 U.S.C. 470aaa-3(c)(3) of the PRPA requires that paleontological locality information associated with paleontological resources use permits remain confidential and 16 U.S.C. 470aaa-8 requires that information concerning the nature and location of the paleontological resource also remain confidential.
On June 11, 2012, the BLM re-issued the instruction memorandum, IM 2012-141 , regarding the confidentiality of paleontological locality information under the provisions of the PRPA and the FOIA.
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