RAC Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Resource Advisory Council?
The Department of the Interior (DOI) established the Resource Advisory Councils (RACs) in 1995 as a forum for local citizens to provide advice and recommendations to DOI on management of the public lands. Each RAC comprises local residents who represent a variety of backgrounds but who share an interest in the public lands. Each Council must include representatives of three broad categories:
- Commercial/commodity interests;
- Environmental/historical groups (including wild horse and burro and dispersed recreation); and
- State and local government, Indian tribes, and the public at large.
Council members vote on recommendations related to public land management and provide them to the designated Federal official (DFO) who serves as liaison to the RAC. The DFO is usually a BLM line manager, such as the State Director, District Manager or Field Office Manager. Each RAC has a charter that outlines council membership, definition of a quorum, operating procedures, and procedures for sending recommendations forward to BLM. The RACs have demonstrated that consensus-driven recommendations often lead to sustainable outcomes that benefit natural resources and often enjoy a high level of public support. See CFR1784.6-1c for additional information.
When & where do the RACs meet?
Each RAC meets two to four times annually, or as needed to accomplish RAC business. The RAC and DFO decide on the meeting location. RAC meetings may be held in government offices or rented meeting rooms and can last from less than one business day (8 hours) up to two days or as needed to accomplish RAC business, which may include a field trip to learn more about resource issues. The BLM reimburses RAC members for their allowable travel expenses.
What are my duties as a RAC member?
Each RAC member assists in the development of recommendations on public land and resource management. These address a variety of public land issues and might include, for example, fire management, off-highway vehicle use, land use planning, oil and gas exploration, grazing issues, and pending legislation.
What subjects does the Council discuss?
The RAC members, RAC chair, and DFO determine which issues the RAC will address. Before each meeting, the BLM publishes notice of the RAC meeting in the Federal Register and distributes it to local news media. The notice includes the time, date, location, and agenda items. Any organization, association or individual may file a statement or appear before the RAC or RAC subgroup regarding topics on the meeting agenda. Topics for RAC meetings may be identified for the upcoming year or before each meeting. RAC recommendations address all public land issues, including, for example, land use planning, recreation, noxious weeds, and wild horse and burro herd management areas.
How can I prepare for a RAC meeting?
The BLM will send you the agenda before each RAC meeting, along with background information. You may contact the DFO with any questions you have about these issues before the RAC meeting.
Does each RAC have a chair?
The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which provides the legal authority for the RACs, stipulates that each RAC should elect officers from among its members. Usually at their first meeting, Councils elect a chair and vice chair to serve for the year.
How are meetings conducted?
The RAC meets at the call of the DFO. Council business meetings are conducted using standard meeting rules, such as Robert's Rules of Order. A quorum must be present to vote. Your RAC charter includes rules defining a quorum.
What happens to RAC recommendations?
The DFO reviews all recommendations provided by the RAC and forwards copies of them to the BLM's Washington Office, which fully considers them in decisions regarding public lands and resources. If the RAC is concerned that it's advice is being arbitrarily disregarded, the RAC may request that the Secretary respond directly to such concerns within 60 days of receipt. Such a request can be made only by unanimous agreement of the RAC members. If the Secretary asks a RAC to examine a particular issue, the DFO reviews the recommendations and sends them (through the BLM Director) to the Secretary.
Are RAC meetings open to the media and general public?
Yes. RAC meetings are open to the media and general public.
How long will I serve on the RAC?
Members may serve one-, two- or three-year terms on a RAC. Their term expiration date is indicated in their appointment letters.
Can members be reappointed to a RAC or are they limited to one term?
The Secretary of the Interior may chose to appoint RAC members to additional terms.
Does the BLM pay members to serve on a RAC?
RAC members serve without salary. However, they may claim allowable expenses for travel, meals, and accommodations. When a RAC member participate in field trips, the BLM will cover allowable costs associated with the trip.
How can RAC members claim expenses?
Local BLM offices help RAC members claim reimbursement for RAC travel expenses. Amounts vary by location. With regard to travel and related expenses, reimbursement must be by electronic funds transfer. RAC members are responsible for any employer’s expense reporting or repayment.
How can I get a copy of the RAC charter?
All RAC charters are available on line on each of the individual state RAC webpages.
How do RAC members get administrative support for the RAC?
Administrative support and organization is provided by the RAC Coordinator in the office of the DFO. In addition, there is a national RAC Coordinator at the BLM National Training Center who works with the DFOs, RAC Coordinators, and BLM Director. The BLM national RAC website can be found here where there are links to state and local RAC websites. The RAC charters and minutes are available at each RAC website.