What We Manage Nationally
The Bureau of Land Management administers more surface land (245 million acres or one-tenth of America’s land base) and more subsurface mineral estate (700 million acres) than any other government agency in the United States. The BLM’s mission, which is principally defined by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA for short), directs the agency to carry out a dual mandate: that of managing public land for multiple uses while conserving natural, historical, and cultural resources. In the language of FLPMA, the BLM is to administer public lands “on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield” of resources.
Multiple uses under BLM management include renewable energy development (solar, wind, other); conventional energy development (oil and gas, coal); livestock grazing; hardrock mining (gold, silver, other), timber harvesting; and outdoor recreation (such as camping, hunting, rafting, and off-highway vehicle driving).
The conservation side of the BLM’s mission includes preserving specially designated landscapes, such as those comprising the 35 million-acre system of National Conservation Lands (including wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, national monuments, national conservation areas, historic trails, and wild and scenic rivers); protecting wild horse and burro rangeland; conserving wildlife, fish, and plant habitat; preserving Native American and “Old West” artifacts; and protecting paleontological resources, such as dinosaur bones. The BLM also works with other Federal agencies to fight wildland fires that threaten public safety, ecosystems, animal and plant habitat, and recreation areas.
Except in areas specifically set aside for conservation purposes, the BLM must multitask to manage the myriad land uses noted above, some of which may appear to conflict with other uses or resources. That makes the BLM’s stewardship mission both complex and challenging, which is exactly what Congress recognized when it passed FLPMA. Thus the Bureau cannot narrowly focus on a single activity at the expense of other authorized uses of the public land. Nevertheless, consistent with the BLM’s goal of good stewardship, “multiple use” does not mean every use on every acre.
All told, the challenges facing the BLM are formidable, but the Bureau, working in a spirit of cooperation with all of its stakeholders and partners, including the general public, is committed to fulfilling its multiple-use and sustained yield mission. In so doing, Americans will be able to access, use, and enjoy their public lands, both now and in the generations to come.
Watch our new video about what we manage on behalf of all Americans.