BLM Land Use Planning

Purpose of Land Use Planning

Land use plans are used by managers and the public to:

  • Allocate resources and determine appropriate multiple uses for the public lands;
  • Develop a strategy to manage and protect resources; and
  • Set up systems to monitor and evaluate status of resources and effectiveness of management practices over time.

Enabling Legislation For Land Use Planning

BLM's land use planning process (43 CFR 1610) intertwines the FLPMA and NEPA regulations.

Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976
"The Secretary shall, with public involvement...develop, maintain, and when appropriate, revise land use plans..." (Section 202: Land Use Planning)

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969
"Utilize a systematic, interdisciplinary approach which will insure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences and environmental design arts in planning and in decision making which may have an effect on man's environment."


Principles of Land Use Planning

Section 202 of FLPMA guides the BLM in its LUP efforts:

  • Follow the principles of multiple use and sustained yield;
  • Use a systematic, interdisciplinary approach, fully considering physical, biological, economic and social aspects of public land management;
  • Identify, designate, protect and specially manage areas of critical environmental concern (ACECs);
  • Consider relative significance of the public land products, services, and use to local economies;
  • Rely on the inventory of the public lands, their resources, and other values, to extent such information is available;
  • Consider present and potential uses of the public lands;
  • Consider the relative scarcity of the values involved and the availability of alternative means (including recycling) and sites for realization of those values;
  • Weigh long-term benefits to the public against short-term benefits;
  • Comply with applicable pollution control laws; and
  • Coordinate the land use inventory, planning, and management activities of or for such lands with the land use planning and management programs of other Federal departments and agencies and of the states, tribes, and local governments within which the lands are located.

Process of Land Use Planning (43 CFR 1610)

The BLM uses a multi-step process when developing a LUP. Some of the steps may occur concurrently. Some situations may require the manager to supplement previous work as additional information becomes available. These steps have been fully integrated with the NEPA process and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidelines. The steps are:

  • Identification of Issues:
    • Issue Notice of Intent (NOI) to begin the scoping process to identify issues and develop planning criteria and to begin public participation.
    • Identify issues. This sets the tone and scope for the entire planning process and is done with full public participation.
  • Develop Planning Criteria:
    • Establish constraints, guides, and determine what will or will not be done or considered during the planning process.
    • Produce a scoping report for public review, including final planning criteria.
  • Inventory Data and Information Collection:
    • Collection of inventory data and information is an ongoing activity and is not governed solely by the planning process.
  • Analyze the Management Situation:
    • Information is gathered on the current management situation. Describes pertinent physical and biological characteristics and evaluates the capability and condition of the resources.
  • Formulate Alternatives:
    • Alternative formulation is the step where the success of the planning effort hinges on clearly identified reasonable alternatives.
  • Estimate Effects of Alternatives:
    • Once alternatives are developed, the next step is to estimate the impact or effects of each on the environment and management situation.
  • Select Preferred Alternative:
    • In the judgment of management, the preferred alternative best resolves the planning issues and promotes balanced multiple use objectives.
    • Issue a Notice of Availability (NOA) of a Draft Plan/Draft EIS; 90-day public review.
  • Select the Resource Management Plan:
    • Public comments, opinions, suggestions, and recommendations are reviewed and analyzed and the important information/data are used in preparing the proposed RMP.
    • Issue a Notice of Availability (NOA) of Proposed Plan/Final EIS; 30-day protest period; concurrent 60-day Governor's review.
    • After protests are resolved, issue a Notice of Availability NOA for the ROD/Final Plan for actions of national interest.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation:
    • Implement decisions and monitor and evaluate the RMP (these actions - tracking changes and trends [both short and long-term] are taken to keep plans viable).
  • Time frame for Completing a LUP:
    • Historically, it has taken three or more years to complete a resource management plan (RMP). The time frame depends on the complexity of the issues and the degree of public involvement. Twenty-four months is the shortest time frame that can reasonably be expected for completion of an RMP.
  • Estimated Cost to Complete a LUP:
    • The estimated cost for completing a comprehensive RMP is from $2.5 to over $4 million depending on the complexity of the plan.

Public Involvement Opportunities in BLM's Planning Process


BLM Planning Links