Partners and Coordination
By strengthening existing and forging new partnerships with stakeholders, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ensures that the nation’s public lands are managed and conserved for future generations of Americans to use and enjoy. The Soil, Water and Air program’s ability to achieve its mission depends upon its ability to work collaboratively with communities and other entities with common goals. The BLM uses an interdisciplinary approach to manage water and other resources, and partners with many other federal, state, and local agencies; tribes; and other groups, associations, and organizations to improve and maintain water quality and availability.
Federal Agencies (Federal Coordination)
The BLM maintains partnerships and coordinates efforts with other federal agencies that have responsibilities such as:
- Managing federal lands, natural resources, and tribal trust;
- Managing waterways and federal water storage projects;
- Permitting and oversight of surface mining;
- Oversight of federal environmental legislation;
- Earth science and agricultural science research; and
- Assisting private agricultural producers.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — EPA is the lead federal agency for the protection of human health and environment, using tools such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. BLM complies with federal environmental laws in its management of lands and resources just as would any other entity, and thus communicates with and occasionally partners with EPA Offices and officials. An EPA partnership example would be a locally-based nonpoint source control project for sediment and nutrients, which includes multiple ownerships in a small watershed including federal land managers, private landowners, and a state game and fish agency.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) — USGS, as the lead federal water data collection agency, is often a BLM partner in the establishment and operation of surface water monitoring stations, or stream gauging stations, where quantity and quality of surface water are measured.
U.S. Forest Service — The Forest Service is often a partner because of the frequent close proximity of National Forest Lands to those lands under the administration of the BLM. An example would be collaborating in the assessment of a watershed with both BLM and Forest Service ownership, which is experiencing high peak flows and high suspended solids loading, causing problems for a community water system at the bottom of the watershed.
National Park Service (NPS) — NPS can also be an agency with ownership adjacent to a tract on which the BLM is considering permitting a use, for example a coal-bed methane well. The BLM will often solicit concerns from another agency if the potential impacts appear to be significant for the management objectives of that agency. Stipulations for the well development may include provisions that are deemed critical to protect adjacent resources.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) — USACE is the lead federal agency for permitting work in navigable waters of the United States; therefore it is important for the BLM and those seeking permits to conduct relevant activities on BLM land to work in coordination with USACE. Relevant activities that may require coordination with USACE include any work in navigable waters or placing dredge or filled material into navigable waters, for example road fills or rip rap bank protection.
Bureau of Reclamation — The Bureau of Reclamation is a partner for the BLM in its role as the lead agency in the Federal Salinity Control Program for the Colorado River Basin, in which the BLM reduces salt loading to the Colorado River by plugging of saline wells and non–point source sediment and salinity control efforts. Reclamation is often a partner in management of dispersed outdoor recreation at major federal reservoirs.
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) — BIA and numerous tribal councils are assisted by the BLM in several ways, including the BLM’s technical support to the Department of the Interior’s tribal trust management responsibilities in the assessment, leasing and development of energy resources, including oil and gas extraction (not limited to energy resources, but includes all Indian trust assets).
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) — FWS is the lead federal agency for Endangered Species Act (ESA) implementation, and frequently assists the BLM in providing biological consultations on planning and NEPA documents. They also assist the BLM in the development and review of habitat conservation plans, and may partner on mutually beneficial vegetative or watershed management projects where fish/wildlife refuge lands lie adjacent to lands administered by the BLM.
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation, and Enforcement (OSMRE) — OSMRE is the lead agency in preparing the NEPA compliance Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for certain coal mine expansions. BLM is often a cooperating agency in the development of the EIS.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) — NRCS delivers a wide variety of program services, technical assistance, and federal cost-share funding to private landowners on western landscapes in which BLM is sometimes a manager of lands above or below the targeted private lands. In the planning of conservation assistance and watershed rehabilitation for these targeted lands, there is often exchange of information and sometimes cooperative implementation of projects between the two agencies.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) — ARS is a major research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has capabilities in research on livestock grazing systems, rangeland hydrology and water quality, and soil science including water movement through soils, and soil erosion. The BLM has used ARS in many studies and continues to cooperate with the agency on topics of mutual interest.
Department of Transportation (DOT) — From time to time BLM may be asked to work with the DOT and one of its agencies, for example the Federal Highways Administration (FHA) regarding a federal highway project and adjacent land management jurisdiction by the BLM.
Department of Defense (DOD) — DOD is responsible for a significant acreage of land with its many military installations. The BLM has cooperative agreements with DOD for some land management responsibilities at some of these installations. The BLM may agree to operate the livestock grazing leasing program, or other specific resource management programs for a particular military installation.
Indian tribes exercise inherent sovereign powers over their members and territory, and BLM works with tribes on a government-to-government basis to address any water related issues affecting specific Indian tribes on or impacted by BLM lands or activates.
State and Local Agencies
BLM State, District, and Field Offices also participate in partnerships and maintain relationships on the state or local level with numerous agencies, entities, groups, and institutions (e.g., universities) with water resource management or research interests. Partnerships with states can be with various agencies of state government, such as departments of lands, fish and game, natural heritage programs, natural resources, etc. These partnerships and relationships vary by geographic location and management issues, and can be very effective in achieving management objectives, leveraging funding, reducing conflict, and obtaining access to additional technical expertise. Additionally, the BLM may work with various entities on a local level to promote public awareness of the importance of responsible use and practices on public lands to maintain and improve water resources. For the relevant agencies and other partners working with BLM on water issues in your state, visit the BLM State Office web page or contact the Water Resources Specialist in your BLM state office.