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BLM's Best management practices
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recreational resource: rafting

What are Best Management Practices?

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages many outstanding resources, including important wildlife habitat, scenic western landscapes, flowing streams and rivers, recreational opportunities, and oil and natural gas production. As oil and gas development and production continues across much of the rural West, it is important the BLM take precautions to ensure development on the public lands is conducted in a manner that prevents or lessens its impact on Public Lands resources.

The BLM continues to improve the way it manages oil and gas development on the Public Lands. Part of that improvement includes the creation and use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to lessen the effects of oil and gas development on the environment. Numerous oil and gas operators use BMPs. The BLM has collected a sampling of these BMPs and included them on this website.

(At Right) Recreation, Wildlife, and Scenic Landscapes are only some of the resources that the BLM manages.


wildlife resource: pronghorn

scenic landscape


Road Building

An example of a two-track road
an example of a two-track road

BMPs reduce the amount of area disturbed for development. In some cases, two-track roads are used to lessen disturbance . . .

An example of a standard road
an example of a standard road

. . . rather than standard roads which disturb more habitat and create more visual contrast.


Visual Resources

Many BMPs focus on reducing the visual or physical "footprint" of development. The theory is, the less vegetation that is disturbed, the less harm will come to wildlife habitat and the scenic beauty our western landscapes offer.

The choice of color is perhaps the most common and simplest BMP for reducing visual contrast. By selecting colors that help oil and gas equipment blend into the background, we lessen the visual intrusion on the landscape.

dark green pumpin unit partially screened with trees
Dark green pumping
unit partially screened
with trees.

Reducing Human Activity in Wildlife Habitat

BMPs can also reduce the footprint of human activity and its harmful effects on wildlife populations. Placing produced oil, water, or condensate tanks in centralized locations, away from important wildlife areas, can greatly reduce the amount of truck traffic in wildlife habitat. Centralizing tank batteries eliminates the need to drive large tanker trucks to each well and reduces the need to maintain large roads in support of the trucks.

centralized tank battery
Centralized tank battery


"Interim Reclamation" is used to restore vegetation, and scenic and habitat resources while a well continues to produce energy. With interim reclamation, all areas not needed for the production of oil and gas are reclaimed, that is, reshaped, covered with topsoil, and reseeded with native plants.

When the well no longer produces oil and gas, final reclamation begins. The well is sealed (plugged) with cement to protect freshwater aquifers. The entire well location and access road are reshaped as closely as possible to the original contour, covered with topsoil, and reseeded. Over a period of years the site will regrow native vegetation, eventually making it very difficult to find the well location.

interim reclamation on coalbed natural gas access road
Interim reclamation
on coalbed natural gas
access road.
restored well loaction The continued support and use of BMPs will help to ensure a sustainable oil and gas exploration, development, and production program that is conducted in a manner that minimizes harm to the environment while serving the Nation's energy needs.

(At left) A restored well location




   Last updated: 06/15/11
This page was created by the
U.S. Bureau of Land Management,
Minerals, Reality, Resource Protection Directorate
1849 C Street N.W
Washington, D.C. 20240
Phone: (202) 208-4201
Fax: (202) 208-4201

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