The majority of BLM public lands in Washington are east of the Cascade crest in the central Columbia Basin and in the highlands of northeastern Washington along the Canadian border. In addition, public lands are found in northern Puget Sound, north of Seattle in San Juan County, which are managed for their ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern) values. A full range of habitats are found on the public lands in Washington and include the maritime Puget Sound lowlands, the central Columbia Basin sagebrush regime, many riparian zones, and the coniferous forest and sub-alpine areas of northeast Washington.
The public lands in eastern Washington are managed pursuant to plans prepared in 1987 and updated in 1992 and are located in ten management units. The lands include one wilderness area, one wilderness study area, 15 ACECs, and numerous areas managed principally for their recreational, riparian, and wildlife values. These areas include recreation sites in the Yakima River Canyon (more than 600,000 visitor days each year), the Juniper Dunes Wilderness and nearby off-highway vehicle (OHV) use area outside the Tri-Cities, and the Channeled Scablands riparian areas just west of Spokane.
In addition to the several hundred thousand acres under direct BLM jurisdiction, BLM administers the mineral resources across another several hundred thousand acres of split-estate lands, more than one million of withdrawn and acquired lands, and mining and reclamation activities on several indian reservations. There are more than 2,700 mining claims and 312 grazing leases on the public lands in Washington. Major current initiatives include the review and approval of major mining operations, uranium mined land reclamation, several land exchanges, and cooperative habitat restoration projects over 50,000 acres in central Washington.
The BLM works with schools to provide students an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the BLM, natural resources, and land management in conjunction with having the students create artwork which is displayed in the BLM office. BLM staff makes presentations to classrooms and/or provides field trips for the students. Following the presentation, BLM provides art supplies (water color paints and paper) for the students to create paintings based upon their impression of the presentation. The completed artwork is displayed in the BLM office for the public and employees to enjoy. At the request of the teacher, the students are invited to visit the BLM office to view the artwork and tour the facility. The program is open to classes in elementary, middle school and high school. There is no direct cost to the participating schools. The BLM provides all necessary art supplies. There are no unique requirements to participate in the program. The BLM has involved public and private schools. This program is only conducted twice a year and several months lead time is required as it is a popular activity.
Historic and abandoned mining and milling activities on public lands pose potentially dangerous and sometimes deadly situations for the public. Most abandoned mine sites are not known. Also, many of the hazards are not always apparent. Recreation users who traverse the lands--such as hikers, off-road enthusiasts, and rockhounds--could encounter abandoned mines and be exposed to serious or fatal injuries. Children are especially at risk.
When the BLM identifies sites with environmental hazards (such as hazardous substances), cleanup action is initiated in conformance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The BLM also seeks to identify Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for cost recovery for these cleanups.