How Plans are Updated

The Bureau of Land Management evaluates and amends or revises its land-use plans in response to changing conditions and demands on the public lands, or when new components are added to the National Conservation Lands that it manages.  Keeping a plan up-to-date helps ensure that the BLM manages the public lands in ways that meet the multiple-use and sustained yield goals that Congress has set for these lands.

Examples of situations that may require new or changed land-use plan decisions include:

  • New information or scientific knowledge about the environmental health of an area
  • Failure to meet the land health standards set out in the original plan
  • Requests for land uses that were not considered in the original plan.  Many older land-use plans, for example, did not consider the possible land-use needs of emerging renewable energy resources.

The BLM can take several steps to keep its plans up to date, through plan maintenance actions, plan amendments, or plan revisions.  Minor changes to an existing land-use plan, such as correcting typographical errors or refining the boundaries of a fire management area are examples of plan maintenance actions.  Plan maintenance actions do not require public notice or the creation of associated NEPA documents.

Changing the decisions in a plan, however, can’t be done through plan maintenance.  The BLM must either amend or revise its land-use plans to change the plan’s decisions.  We amend or revise our plans in much the same way that we create them:  we require public involvement; we create NEPA documents; and we give state governors the opportunity to review our amendments or revisions for conformity to state plans.

  • Plan revisions:  Plan revisions involve a complete or near-complete rewrite of an existing land-use plan.  A plan revision always requires a full Environmental Impact Statement.
  • Plan amendments:  Plan amendments modify one or more parts of an existing land-use plan, for example, allowing the development of wind energy resources where they had not previously been considered. Depending on how wide-ranging the effects of an amendment would be, the BLM will prepare either an Environmental Assessment or a full EIS to accompany a plan amendment.

When the BLM revises or amends an existing land-use plan, the old plan decisions remain in effect.  However, the agency has the option to defer plan implementation actions during this time period to help reduce the negative effects that maintaining the status quo may create.