BLM statement on continuation of grazing activities during COVID-19 Pandemic
Grazing on BLM-managed public lands is an important part of the Nation’s food supply and will continue in 2020 as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. During these challenging circumstances, the BLM is actively pursuing and implementing safe alternative means of continuing our close coordination with grazing permittees and lessees even as our working conditions evolve. Employee and public safety is our highest priority.
The BLM will use commonsense adjustments to its normal approach to permit and lease management to allow for a normal grazing season. The BLM does not expect significant disruptions that would delay grazing turnout for the 2020 grazing season, in part because the BLM can utilize phone calls, postal services, and email for grazing permitting communications. In cases where BLM offices are closed to the general public, our specialists are available by appointment to meet with permittees, including by coordinating with them via phone and email. While the BLM generally conducts annual in-person meetings with permittees prior to turnout, these in-person meetings are not required by applicable laws or regulations, and the BLM can complete any necessary communications by phone, in writing, or by email. The BLM remains open to other lawful and creative means to ensure important coordination with permittees during these challenging circumstances.
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) also provides that the terms and conditions of an expired permit or lease shall continue until the BLM completes any additional environmental analysis and issues a new decision relating to issuing a new permitting/leasing authorization. BLM Instruction Memorandum 2015-122 explains the BLM’s process for implementing this provision of the FLPMA.
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.