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<<Back to Spring 2011 Steward

BLM’s Work is Year Round

photos and story by Craig Flentie
Public Affairs Specialist
Central Montana District

an ATV receives repairs 

Joe Nardinger and Ed Bradley discuss the repairs need on an ATV. 
building a picnic table

Mike Sweeney moves his work indoors during the winter and puts the finishing touches on a picnic table that will be placed near the Gillmore cabin.

It’s not uncommon for members of the public to ask what the BLM does when the snow is deep, the temperature is low, and our outdoor work temporarily comes to a halt.   

On occasion, it seems there’s a public misperception that when hard winter weather stops BLM’s field work, all BLM work stops. That assumption is far from accurate, but it does lend credence to the age old theory of visibility. This theory holds that we’re most visible when we’re responding to a fire, conducting range surveys, helping a visitor on the Upper Missouri, conducting a public meeting, maintaining roads or other facilities on public lands, treating noxious weeds, monitoring riparian areas, helping trap and transport wildlife, conducting check stations in the fall, burning slash piles, inspecting a construction project, or any of the host of other outdoor tasks BLM staffers complete on a regular basis.  

This theory also holds that when a public resource managing agency is not visible, the neighbors may not understand what all we do, regardless of the weather. 

A tour through any BLM office would quickly reveal a mix of duties on behalf of our public lands and taxpayers that are not weather dependent, but are necessary ingredients in the mix.      

We always have a host of staffers working on planning projects (e.g., resource management plans, environmental assessments, categorical exclusions) that provide the guidance for our field work. The information technology needs keep evolving (and puzzling some of us), contracting becomes a little more detailed each year, grazing bills need mailing, partnerships need developing, maps need updating, next year’s field projects need prioritizing, and our story needs telling, Additionally, there are a host of meetings for staffers and managers that are better held during the winter than during the field season. 

And those staffers who do work primarily outside, simply move indoors and continue working, building, maintaining and repairing. 

All in all, it’s pretty easy to answer those questions about our winter activity, even though some of it is less visible in the public’s eye.

Last updated: 06-28-2012