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Planning Overview

Why does BLM prepare Resource Management Plans?

Resource management plans (RMPs) guide BLM's management actions on the public lands covered by the plan. In Alaska, this means non-selected BLM-managed lands, as well as those lands selected by the State of Alaska and Native Corporations, but not yet conveyed. RMP decisions establish goals and objectives for resource management (i.e., desired future conditions), the measures needed to achieve these goals and objectives, and parameters for using BLM-managed lands. They identify lands that are open or available for certain uses, including any applicable restrictions, and lands that are closed to certain uses. RMP decisions are made on a broad scale and guide subsequent site-specific day-to-day decisions.

RMPs not only help local BLM managers make day-to-day decisions, but they are required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976. Section 202 of FLPMA directs the BLM to develop resource management plans and requires that in developing land use plans, BLM will:

  • Use and observe the principles of multiple use and sustained yield
  • Use an interdisciplinary approach to integrate physical, biological, economic, and other sciences
  • Give priority to designating and protecting areas of critical environmental concern
  • Rely, to every extent possible, on an inventory of public lands, their resources, and other values
  • Consider present and potential uses of public lands
  • Consider the relative scarcity of the values involved and the availability of alternative means and sites for realizing those values
  • Weigh long-term benefits to the public against short-term benefits
  • Provide for compliance with applicable tribal, Federal and State pollution control laws, standards, and implementation plans
  • Coordinate the land use inventory, planning and management activities of public lands with land use planning and management programs of other agencies.

What are the major steps in the planning process?

The diagram below depicts the major steps BLM follows in completing RMPs. A text description of this information is also available.

diagram depicting the major steps BLM follows in completing RMPs

National Environmental Policy Act

Under BLM guidelines, the RMP planning process is integrated with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires consideration and disclosure of environmental and socio-economic impacts associated with any proposed action. In this case, the analysis will be documented in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will identify potential impacts that implementation of the RMP could have on the environment and identify appropriate measures to mitigate those impacts. The EIS will be prepared in compliance with NEPA, Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing NEPA, FLPMA, and other relevant laws and regulations, including the BLM h-1601-1 Land Use Planning Handbook.

Reference materials

Types of Resource Management Plan Decisions

Here are examples of the types of decisions that will be made as part of the Resource Management planning process:

Vegetation: Identify desired future conditions for vegetative resources, including the desired mix of vegetative types, structural stages, and landscape and riparian functions, and provide for native plant, fish, and wildlife habitats. Identify the actions and areawide use restrictions needed to achieve desired vegetative conditions.

Cultural resources: Identify areawide criteria or site-specific use restrictions that apply to special cultural resource issues, including traditional cultural properties, that may affect the location, timing, or method of development or use of other resources in the planning area. Identify measures to proactively manage, protect, and use cultural resources. Identify areas of traditional Native Alaskan interest, which require additional native consultation prior to approval of future land impacting projects.

Fish and Wildlife: Acknowledging the State's role in managing fish and wildlife and working in close coordination with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, describe existing and desired population and habitat conditions for major habitat types that support a wide variety of game and nongame species. Identify actions and areawide use restrictions needed to achieve desired population and habitat conditions while maintaining a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationships.

Special Status Species: Identify strategies and decisions to conserve and recover plants, animals, fish and avian species listed in the BLM category of special status species. This category covers Threatened and Endangered species as listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with BLM sensitive species as determined by a BLM State Director.

Recreation: Identify the recreation activities that can be allowed and are compatible with other resources on BLM-managed public lands in a given planning arera. An RMP determines resource allocations on the public lands, andd the BLM must evaluate the kinds and amounts of recreational use, along with other uses within the planning areea, to ensure that management strategies will sustain the area's goals, standards and objectives so that recreation is in balance with other natural resource uses. Not every activity can be conducted on every acre of land, and decisions would identify major actions, limitations and restrictions that could be required to maintain balanced resource and recreation values. The RMP may also identify Special Recreation Management Areas.

OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) use: All public lands must be designated as “open,” “limited,” or “closed” to OHV's (43 CFR 8342.1).

Lands and Realty: Identify lands that are available for disposal, provided they meet the criteria provided in FLPMA (Section 203 and 206) or other statutes and regulations. Identify criteria under which acquisitions of land would occur. Identify proposed withdrawal areas or those areas where existing withdrawals may be revoked. Identify where and under what circumstances land use authorizations, such as major leases and land use permits, may be granted.

Fluid minerals (Oil and Gas, Geothermal Resources, and Coal Bed Methane): Identify areas open to leasing, subject to the terms and conditions of the standard lease form. Identify areas open to leasing, subject to major constraints, such as no surface occupancy stipulations. Identify areas closed to leasing.

Solid Minerals: Identify areas open or closed to the operation of the mining laws, mineral material disposal, and non-energy leasing. In open areas, identify any areawide terms, conditions, or other special considerations needed to protect resource values.

Administrative designations: Consistent with the goals, standards and objectives for the planning area, make the following determinations: Designate Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), identifying goals, standards, and objectives for each area, as well as general management practices and uses, including necessary constraints and mitigation measures. Designate Research Natural Areas and Outstanding Natural Areas as types of ACECs using the ACEC designation process.

Link to the BLM national land use planning website