BLM cancels withdrawal proposal in California desert
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management has canceled its withdrawal application and the Department of the Interior’s proposed withdrawal of 1.3 million acres of national conservation lands from location and entry under the mining laws in the California Desert Conservation Area. In making its decision, the BLM recently reviewed mineral exploration levels and mining data in the California desert, as well as the expected impacts from future activities associated with locatable mineral extraction. The BLM concluded that impacts of future mineral exploration and mining, subject to existing environmental regulations, do not pose a significant threat to the protection of cultural, biological and scientific values.
The lands proposed for withdrawal are within areas designated for conservation in the Record of Decision for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) and have historically experienced very little mining-related disturbance greater than casual use. Of the 1.3 million acres proposed to be withdrawn, only 1.5 percent—or approximately 19,500 acres—is encumbered by mining claims.
“Based on the likelihood that there would be little significant mining-related disturbance to these lands and the BLM's regulatory authority governing any mining operations that might occur, withdrawal at such a large scale does not appear to be necessary to achieve the purpose for which the national conservation lands were designated,” said BLM California State Director Jerome E. Perez.
On December 28, 2016, the BLM published in the Federal Register a notice of the proposal to withdraw approximately 1.3 million acres from location and entry under the mining laws for a period of 20 years. Publication of the notice temporarily segregated the lands from location and entry under the mining laws for up to two years and provided the public with an opportunity to comment on the proposed withdrawal. The notice also announced BLM’s intent to prepare an environmental impact statement analyzing the potential impacts of the proposed withdrawal.
The segregation and environmental analysis process associated with the proposed withdrawal have also been terminated. The notice of cancellation can be found on the BLM website: https://www.blm.gov/california/drecp.
Additionally, the BLM recently announced that it’s considering changes to the DRECP to seek greater opportunities for renewable energy generation on public lands managed by the BLM. The Federal Register notice announcing this action was published on Feb. 2 and can be found at: https://go.usa.gov/xnAg3. The notice opens a period of public comment to consider amending the three land use plans that underlie the DRECP.
“We recognize the significant contributions and importance of public lands in the California desert,” stated Perez. “We remain committed to continued work with the State of California, local communities, partners, and stakeholders in the management of these lands.”
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.