Print Page


September 12, 2013 

In Reply Refer To:
1610 (210) P

Instruction Memorandum No. 2013-131, Change 1
Expires: 09/30/2014

To:            All Washington Office and Field Office Officials

From:        Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject:    Guidance on Estimating Nonmarket Environmental Values

Program Areas: Land Use Planning, National Environmental Policy Act.

Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) transmits guidance (Attachment 1) describing
when and how to consider nonmarket environmental values when preparing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses for the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) resource management planning and other decision-making.

Change 1. When IM 2013-131 was issued in May 2013, it was incorrectly classified as an internal document. This change reclassifies the guidance as a public document. To allow this change, two references to BLM's internal socioeconomic SharePoint site (one in the IM, another in Attachment 1) have been deleted.

Policy/Action: All BLM managers and staff are directed to utilize estimates of nonmarket environmental values in NEPA analysis supporting planning and other decision-making where relevant and feasible, in accordance with the attached guidance. At least a qualitative description of the most relevant nonmarket values should be included for the affected environment and the impacts of alternatives in NEPA analyses involving environmental impact statements (EIS), for both resource management plans and project-level decisions. Such description may also be appropriate for inclusion in environmental assessments.

The use of quantitative valuation methods should contribute to the analysis of one or more issues to be addressed in the environmental analysis supporting planning or other decision-making. A quantitative analysis of nonmarket values in EIS-level NEPA analyses is strongly encouraged where one or more of the criteria described in the attached guidance apply. 

Timeframe: Effective immediately. 

Budget Impact: Minimal.

Background: Nonmarket environmental values reflect the benefits individuals attribute to experiences of the environment, uses of natural resources, or the existence of particular
ecological conditions that do not involve market transactions and therefore lack prices. Examples include the perceived benefits from hiking in a wilderness or fishing for subsistence rather than commercial purposes. The economic methods described in this guidance provide monetary estimates of nonmarket values. Several non-economic, primarily qualitative methods can also be used to characterize the values attributed to places, landscapes, and other environmental features. Guidance on qualitative methods for assessing environmental values, including ethnography, interviews, and surveys, is in preparation.

Ideally, economic analysis for resource management should consider all relevant values, not merely those that are easy to quantify. Utilizing nonmarket values provides a more complete picture of the consequences of a proposed activity than market data alone would allow. The
BLM's Land Use Planning Handbook, Appendix D encourages inclusion of information on nonmarket values, but does not provide detail. 

This IM provides initial guidance on these topics. The socioeconomics program is currently funding field-based case studies on using nonmarket economic methods for resource
management decisions. Those case studies and other lessons learned from state and field office staff will be incorporated in revised guidance, emphasizing practical applications, targeted for fiscal year 2015. We welcome your observations on your experiences as you implement this guidance.

Draft guidance on the use of nonmarket values was first circulated for comment to Washington Office and state office officials in 2010 under IM 2010-061, as well as to a limited number of external reviewers. In addition to many comments from BLM staff, comments were also
received from economists at the Interior Department's Office of Policy Analysis, the National
Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey; the American Petroleum Institute and the Wilderness Society; and Colorado State University and the University of New Mexico. To
respond to these comments, the initial draft was extensively revised and expanded. Based on a further review by BLM socioeconomics and planning staff, the second draft was further revised to provide greater clarity and practicality.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: The BLM Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1), Appendix D.

Coordination: This guidance has been coordinated with BLM socioeconomics staff, state office planners, and Washington Office programs in WO-200, WO-300, WO-400, and the Solicitor's Office.

Contact: Joe Stout, Chief, Division of Decision Support, Planning and NEPA (WO-210), 202-912-7275, j2stout@blm.gov; Rob Winthrop, Senior Social Scientist (WO-210), 202¬912-7287, rwinthro@blm.gov; Rebecca Moore, Economist (WO-210), 970-226-9246, rmoore@blm.gov.

Signed by:                                                                     Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                         Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                          Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning

3 Attachments:
   1 - Economic Methods for Estimating Nonmarket Environmental Values (15 pp)
   2 - Table: Methods of Environmental Valuation (EPA Science Advisory Board) (2 pp)
   3 - The Use of Stated Preference Methods (Office of Management and Budget) (2 pp)

Last updated: 09-25-2013