Conservation and Landscape Health Rule (Public Lands Rule)

IB 2024-035, Change 1
Information Bulletin
In Reply Refer To:

6100 (HQ-200) P

To:All BLM Employees
From:Assistant Director, Resources and Planning
Subject:Conservation and Landscape Health Rule (Public Lands Rule)
Information Bulletin:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published the Conservation and Landscape Health Rule, commonly known as the Public Lands Rule, in the Federal Register on May 9, 2024. This information bulletin outlines the major requirements of the rule and the goal for publishing implementation guidance written by a broad interdisciplinary team including subject matter experts in the field. This information bulletin also indicates intent to engage employees and the public on implementation policy and practice going forward.

Public Lands Rule Requirements

The Public Lands Rule advances the BLM’s multiple use and sustained yield mission by addressing the health and resilience of public lands. Conservation is a use of public lands on equal footing with other uses and is necessary for the protection and restoration of important resources. The Public Lands Rule will help safeguard the health of our public lands for current and future generations by ensuring we:

  • Protect the most intact, functioning landscapes;
  • Restore degraded habitat and ecosystems; and
  • Use science and data, including Indigenous Knowledge, as the foundation for management decisions across all plans and programs.

The rule establishes new regulations for the use of conservation to ensure ecosystem resilience and prevent permanent impairment, unnecessary degradation, or undue degradation of public lands, and it revises existing regulations on designation of areas of critical environmental concern (ACECs). The major requirements of the rule are outlined below:

  • § 1610.7-2 Designation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern: These revised regulations codify existing BLM policies for ACEC designation and management and update existing policy regarding temporary protection for areas nominated outside of the land use planning process, including during ongoing evaluation of proposed projects. They also establish a management standard to ensure ACEC values are appropriately conserved, codify research natural areas as a type of ACEC designated for the primary purpose of research and education, and establish a presumption that all potential ACECs that meet the relevance, importance, and special management attention criteria will be designated.
  • § 6102.2 Management to Protect Intact Landscapes: This section requires the BLM to identify and delineate intact landscapes during land use planning and to identify which intact landscapes or portions of intact landscapes will be managed to protect their intactness. This section also requires the BLM to collect and track landscape intactness data in a publicly available database and prioritize acquisition of lands that would protect and connect intact landscapes.
  • § 6102.3.1 Restoration Prioritization and Planning: This section requires the BLM to identify priority landscapes for restoration and produce a restoration plan for those priority landscapes. Restoration prioritization and restoration plans for priority landscapes must be updated every five years.
  • § 6102.4 Restoration and Mitigation Leasing: Independent of § 6102.3.1, this section outlines the process for administering the restoration and mitigation leasing program including what these leases may be used for, who may hold them, criteria of a successful lease application, and conditions for bonding, termination, and suspension of leases. The BLM authorized officer has discretion to accept, reject, or renew a lease.
  • § 6102.5 Management Actions for Ecosystem Resilience: This section requires the BLM to share watershed condition assessment data in a publicly available database, to meaningfully consult with Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations, and to identify opportunities for Tribal co-stewardship.
  • § 6102.5.1 Mitigation: This section emphasizes continued application of the full mitigation hierarchy (avoid, minimize, and compensate) and establishes regulations concerning compensatory mitigation, including the use of mitigation banks and third- party mitigation fund holders.
  • § 6103.1 Land Health Standards: This section requires the BLM to develop, review, and amend national land health standards and indicators every 10 years for all ecosystems managed by the BLM. It drives the BLM toward landscape-scale assessments, evaluations, and determinations. State offices must adopt the national standards and indicators and may incorporate geographically distinct standards as necessary to evaluate rare or unique ecosystem types.
  • § 6103.1.1 Management for Land Health: This section requires the BLM to manage all program areas to achieve or make significant progress toward achieving land health standards.
  • § 6103.1.2 Land Health Evaluations and Determinations: This section requires the BLM to conduct watershed condition assessments and land health evaluations for all BLM- managed land every 10 years. When watershed condition assessments and land health evaluations find that resource conditions are achieving or making significant progress toward achieving land health, then project-level decisions should rely on such evidence where appropriate. When a land heath standards evaluation determines that an area is not meeting or making significant progress toward achieving land health standards, a causal factor determination must be completed within one year. If any causal factors are within the BLM’s jurisdiction, the BLM must implement appropriate management actions to promote progress towards achieving land health standards, taking into account valid existing rights and existing management priorities.
  • § 6103.2 Inventory, Assessment, and Monitoring: This section requires the BLM to complete watershed condition assessments every 10 years, to maintain a publicly available inventory of infrastructure and natural resources on public lands, and to use high-quality assessment, inventory, and monitoring data in all BLM decision-making. It also establishes standards for the collection and maintenance of assessment, inventory, and monitoring data.

Public Lands Rule Implementation

The requirements of the rule should be incorporated into the BLM’s existing land management processes and decision-making at the appropriate stage. New land use planning processes should not be initiated solely to respond to the requirements of the rule, and the rule should be considered within existing processes as outlined in Attachment 1 (How to Incorporate Public Lands Rule). Some of the requirements in the rule, such as the establishment of land health standards, are precursors to other requirements (land health evaluations); these relationships are illustrated in Attachment 1. Preliminary implementation guidance will address when to begin work on the new requirements and how the new requirements are related.

Implementation Guidance Rollout

The implementation of the rule will require updates to existing guidance documents, as well as production of new manual sections, handbooks, and other guidance documents. Not all of these documents will be available on the effective date of the rule, however, the goal is to make implementation guidance accessible on the Public Lands Rule | Bureau of Land Management ( as it becomes available. Following publication of the preliminary implementation guidance, a series of webinars will be held to explain how the Public Lands Rule will be implemented, and subject matter experts will be available to answer questions from the field. The list of preliminary implementation guidance documents and the general timeline for producing the full suite of implementation guidance can be found in Attachment 2 (Implementation Guidance).

In addition, within the next year, the intent is to continue holding engagement sessions for employees and for stakeholders to discuss implementation and identify any opportunities to improve BLM practice and guidance going forward.

If you have questions about this Information Bulletin, please contact the Public Lands Rule project lead, Patricia (Pat) Johnston, at or (541) 600-9693.

Signed By:
Sharif Branham
Assistant Director
Resources and Planning
Authenticated By:
Ambyr Fowler
Division of Regulatory Affairs and Directives (HQ630)