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Bureau of Land Management
Release Date: 08/12/14

BLM Issues Rapid Ecoregional Assessments For the Northwestern Plains and Middle Rockies

BILLINGS, Mont. – The Bureau of Land Management today released two Rapid Ecoregional Assessments, or REAs, summarizing the conditions of the Northwestern Plains and Middle Rockies Ecoregions.  The Northwestern Plains Ecoregion is located in the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska; and the Middle Rockies Ecoregion is located in the states of Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho.  The Northwestern Plains REA is composed of the Northwestern Glaciated Plains and the Northwestern Great Plains Ecoregions.  This REA has an area of 236,249 square miles and includes land administered by 12 BLM Field Offices.  The Middle Rockies REA has an area of 105,000 square miles and includes land administered by 20 BLM Field Offices.
REAs use existing scientific information to identify resource conditions and trends within an ecoregion, which transcends traditional administrative boundaries.  This large-scale approach can help land managers and stakeholders assess current resource conditions at an ecoregional scale.  The REAs provide science-based information and tools for land managers and stakeholders to consider in subsequent resource planning and decision-making processes, such as Resource Management Plans and Environmental Impact Statements.
The REAs themselves do not contain findings and recommendations, nor do they make management decisions or allocate resource uses.  The information, maps, and tools provided by the REAs should inform and strengthen BLM’s analyses of the projected and cumulative effects of various management alternatives to be developed in the future.
REAs are prepared in cooperation with other Federal and state land management agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of the Interior’s lead science agency.  These REAs integrate interagency and public data, creating a broad assessment of ecological conditions, trends, and risks on public lands managed by the BLM in these areas.  They identify important habitats for fish, wildlife, and other species of concern.  For example, REAs identify areas that are less ecologically intact or readily restorable; and where development activities may be directed to minimize potential environmental impacts.  REAs then gauge the potential of these habitats to be affected by four overarching environmental change agents: climate change, wildfires, invasive species, and urban and energy development.  In contrast to more traditional BLM assessments, REAs do not assess the conditions of specific areas at a fine scale, such as grazing allotments, nor do they describe desired future conditions.
The BLM works at all levels of the agency, and with its many partners who participated in developing these REAs, to ensure that this information is used as the BLM develops management strategies to deal with broad-scale issues.  The BLM is aware that other groups, such as the Western Governors’ Association, are working on similar broad-scale assessments and the BLM encourages users of the REAs to consider the results of these other assessments as well.

The Northwestern Plains and Middle Rockies REAs are available on the internet at  For more information on these assessments, please contact Mike Philbin at (406) 896-5041 or Wendy Velman at (406) 896-5032 in Montana, Bob Means at (307) 775-6287 in Wyoming, or Nika Lepak at (208) 373-3810 in Idaho.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Last updated: 08-12-2014