BLM Initiates Proposed Withdrawal of Conservation Lands in Calif. Desert
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Consistent with the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) in the California Desert Conservation Area, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will publish a notice of proposed withdrawal of 1.3 million acres of California National Conservation Lands in the California desert.
The Record of Decision for the DRECP, signed on September 14, 2016, described the BLM’s intent to begin the withdrawal process within 90 days of signature. The purpose of the proposed withdrawal is to protect conservation lands that provide important protections for biological and cultural resources from the adverse impacts of mining.
"Today's announcement marks the first step in a process to more fully protect important areas within the California Desert Conservation Area," said Beth Ransel, BLM California Desert District Manager. “We look forward to thoughtful dialogue with the public and stakeholders on effectively managing and conserving these critical areas."
The BLM is proposing to withdraw the lands described in the notice from location and entry under the Mining Law of 1872, for 20 years, subject to valid existing rights. The withdrawal does not apply to the mineral leasing, geothermal leasing, or material sales laws. The segregation is intended to preserve the status quo while the proposed withdrawal process is under review.
Publication of the notice of proposed withdrawal is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Dec. 28 and initiates a 90-day public scoping period which will include preparing various studies and analyses and a public review process to inform a final decision on the withdrawal application. These studies include a mineral potential report and an analysis of the potential environmental effects of the proposed withdrawal under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The BLM will host public meetings to gather scoping comments related to the withdrawal process. During the scoping period, written comments about the proposed withdrawal will be accepted from all concerned individuals, tribes, agencies, and organizations. Scoping comments will be addressed in a scoping report that will be prepared as part of the environmental analysis.
Publication of the notice also temporarily segregates the lands identified in the notice from location of new mining claims to preserve the status quo while the proposed withdrawal is under review. The lands will be temporarily segregated for up to two years from the date of publication in the Federal Register, or until a decision is made on the withdrawal proposal, whichever comes first.
The BLM signed the Record of Decision approving its Land Use Plan Amendment on September 14, 2016, completing Phase I of the DRECP. The BLM Plan Amendment covers over 10 million acres of BLM-managed lands in an innovative landscape-level plan that streamlines renewable energy development while conserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and providing outdoor recreation opportunities.
For more information about the DRECP please visit https://www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/plans-in-development/california/desert-renewable-energy-conservation-plan
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’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. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $111 billion in economic output across the country in fiscal year 2019—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 498,000 jobs.