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Water Resources

Technical Guidance and Policy

Guidance regarding water quality, remediation, use, etc. on BLM-administered lands can be found in several BLM manuals and handbooks, technical references and technical notes.

Manuals outline management objectives, describe legal authorities, and provide policies, procedures, and instructions to manage certain resources. The following manuals are important for managing water resources on the public lands:

BLM Manual 7240 addresses water quality. The BLM’s water quality objectives include establishment and maintenance of land use practices that ensure the protection of water supplies from chemical, physical and biological deterioration. The BLM’s management guidelines direct field units to employ best management practices (BMPs) and use standard data collection and analysis techniques.

BLM Manual 7250 addresses water rights. It provides guidance for acquiring, perfecting, and protecting water rights necessary for multiple-use management of the public lands. The BLM recognizes the States’ authority to administer the rights to appropriate and use water within their boundaries. The BLM coordinates with the States to effectively manage their federally reserved and state appropriative rights on the public lands.

Handbooks are the source of detailed instructions for performing specialized procedures to carry out policy and direction described in the Manual Section. Handbooks are considered part of the Manual, and have the same force of authority as the Manual Section. The following are some of the handbooks relevant to the Water program:

H-4180-1 Rangeland Health Standards describes the authorities, objectives, and policies that guide the implementation of the Healthy Rangeland Initiative, including assessment of public land health, and taking appropriate action to achieve, or make progress toward achieving, specified rangeland health standards.

Technical Notes are intended for BLM employees, but may provide the general public with additional technical information. They encompass resource management topics such as ecological surveys, inventories, and monitoring; analytical methods and techniques; applied research; resource assessments; risk management; and model interpretation and estimation. Each Technical Note deals with a single subject. Links to Technical Notes that may be of particular importance to water quality and resource issues are provided.

#405 A framework for analyzing the hydrologic condition of watersheds — The guidance outlines a process for identifying the essential factors needed to describe hydrologic conditions with the flexibility to address site-specific characteristics. Hydrologic condition analysis results in an understanding of the interrelationships among meteorological, surface and ground-water, and physical and biological factors that influence the flow, quality, and/or timing of water.

Technical References expand on the concepts underlying Technical Notes and generally are lengthier than Technical Notes and may be produced as a collection of related documents about one subject.

1737-23 Multiple Indicator Monitoring (MIM) of Stream Channels and Streamside Vegetation was developed to provide information necessary for managers, landowners, and others to adaptively manage riparian resources. The MIM protocol is designed to be objective, efficient, and effective for monitoring stream banks, channels, and riparian vegetation. Indicators and procedures in this protocol were selected and developed primarily to monitor impacts of livestock and other large herbivores on wadable streams (usually less than 10 m wide). The MIM protocol integrates annual grazing use and long-term trend indicators, allowing for evaluation of livestock grazing management. Because the MIM protocol includes procedures for documenting stream condition and trend, users will also find that the long-term indicators described in this protocol are useful for monitoring changes that occur on the stream banks and in the channel as a result of management activities other than grazing.

1737-20 Grazing Management Processes and Strategies for Riparian-Wetland Areas provides information to livestock operators and land managers in developing successful riparian-wetland grazing management strategies across a wide array of land types. Because of the complexity of riparian-wetland areas and issues, this technical reference does not set forth a specific formula for identifying the type of grazing strategy best suited for an area. Rather, it provides information to help design appropriate grazing strategies so that soil and vegetation aspects, water issues, and wildlife and livestock needs are addressed in a comprehensive manner.

1737-17 A guide to managing, restoring, and conserving springs in the Western United States provides information on the characteristics of springs in the Western U.S. and techniques for managing spring habitats to allow use, maintain biological integrity, and rehabilitate or restore degraded habitats. It is intended to assist biologists, range conservationists, and other natural resource specialists in the development of conservation or land use plans. It does not make specific water development recommendations.

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