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Bighorn Basin RMP Revision

Wind River/Bighorn Basin District 

Themes for Least Resource Use and Most Resource Use Options

A Resource Management Plan (RMP) is a tool used to guide future public land use decisions. One of the goals of a RMP is to minimize the resource conflicts which can arise when public land is managed for many different uses.  There are many possible directions the RMP can go to address all the major issues and identify uses that are allowed, restricted or excluded.

However, the BLM is not required to analyze each variation.  Rather, a full spectrum of options that meet the purpose and need and are reasonable given BLM mandates, policies and programs are analyzed. The full spectrum of options would include management intensity greater than and less than current management, resulting in more and less resource uses. Least Resource Use emphasizes conservation of physical, biological, heritage, and visual resources with constraints on resources uses. Most Resource Use emphasizes resource use and production and reduces constraints, while still providing for the resource protection necessary to meet regulatory requirements. Table 1-1 outlines how Least Resource Use and Most Resource Use address various management topics.

Table 1-1 Resource Use by Management Topic

Management Topic
Least Resource Use
Most Resource Use
Travel Management
Designated Roads and Trails. 
Closed area
Open OHV areas (play areas).
Existing Roads and Trails
Wildlife habitats
Managed to sustain or enhance wildlife habitat throughout the area. Maintains continuous blocks of vegetation and habitat. Minimizes habitat fragmentation.
Managed to reduce restrictions on resource uses both in time and geographical extent.
Oil and Gas
Oil and gas leasing available where conflicts are minimal. Seasonal restrictions and surface use restrictions extended in time and geographical extent imposed for protection of other resource values.
Largest area available for oil and gas leasing. Reduces constraints or restrictions on development and production.
Right-of-Way Management Areas
Rights require mitigation or not allowed.
Rights-of-ways generally allowed with little mitigation.
Emphasizes designation and establishes management actions to protect resource values.
Minimal ACEC designations.
Multiple Use Lands with Wilderness Characteristics - outside of WSAs
Managed to retain wilderness characteristics.
Does not manage to retain wilderness characteristics.
Livestock Grazing
Removes livestock grazing from certain areas to reduce resource conflicts.
Maintains and seeks opportunities for additional forage to be allocated to livestock.


Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)

Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) are places where special management is needed to (a) protect important historical, cultural, scenic and natural areas or (b) identify areas hazardous to human life and property. To be considered for ACEC designation an area must meet both importance and relevance criteria described below. In an ACEC, management directions are generally restrictive to protect resource values. There is a great deal of flexibility in how the BLM may manage an ACEC. The only restriction imposed by the ACEC designation is for locatable mineral development. ACEC designation requires a plan of operations for mining and exploration activity, regardless of size.

Relevance Criteria

An area meets the “relevance” criterion if it contains one or more of the following:

  1. A significant historic, cultural or scenic value (including but not limited to rare or sensitive archeological resources and religious or cultural resources important to Native Americans). 
  2. A fish and wildlife resource (including but not limited to habitat for endangered, sensitive or threatened species or habitat essential for maintaining species diversity). 
  3. A natural process or system (including but not limited to endangered, sensitive or threatened plant species; rare, endemic or relic plants or plant communities which are terrestrial, aquatic or riparian; or rare geological features). 
  4. Natural hazards (including but not limited to areas of avalanche, dangerous flooding, landslides, unstable soils, seismic activity or dangerous cliffs). A hazard caused by human action may meet the relevance criteria if it is determined through the resource management planning process that it has become part of a natural process.

Importance Criteria

The value, resource, system, process or hazard described above must have substantial significance and values in order to satisfy the importance criteria. This generally means that the value, resource, system, process or hazard is characterized by one or more of the following:
  1. Has more than locally significant qualities which give it special worth, consequence, meaning, distinctiveness or cause for concern, especially compared to any similar resource. 
  2. Has qualities or circumstances that make it fragile, sensitive, rare, irreplaceable, exemplary, unique, endangered, threatened or vulnerable to adverse change 
  3. Has been recognized as warranting protection in order to satisfy national priority concerns or to carry out the mandates of the Federal Land Management and Practices Act (FLMPA). 
  4. Has qualities which warrant highlighting in order to satisfy public or management concerns about safety and public welfare. 
  5. Poses a significant threat to human life and safety or to property.

The Least Resource Use may direct that restrictions be placed on uses in an ACEC, such as no leasing of oil and gas.  The Most Resource Use may not designate an ACEC or may designate a smaller geographic area and would make the area available for various uses. For example, the area would be available for oil and gas leasing.

Wild and Scenic Rivers

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations and to safeguard the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development.  Rivers may be designated by Congress or, if certain requirements are met, the Secretary of the Interior. Rivers are classified as wild, scenic, or recreational.

  1. Wild river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America. 
  2. Scenic river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads. 
  3. Recreational river areas — Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.

The BLM will evaluate eligible rivers in the RMP EIS to determine their suitability and document their tentative classifications (wild, scenic, and/or recreational).  A suitable determination provides the basis for any decision that recommends legislation.  In addition, management actions are established to retain the character of the river segment. 

Multiple Use Lands with Wilderness Characteristics

Currently, lands outside of Wilderness Study Areas are not specifically managed to protect wilderness characteristics.  Through the planning process, a determination is made to either manage all, a portion or none of the inventoried lands for retention of wilderness characteristics. During the comment period for the Draft RMP and EIS, the public is encouraged to provide information about the impacts of managing for wilderness characteristics.  Least Resource Use may set management actions to retain wilderness characteristics while Most Resource Use will make these areas available for development.

Oil and Gas Leasing

Lands within the planning area are designated as closed, unavailable or available for leasing. Leasing is not allowed by law on lands closed to leasing, for example, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. The BLM has the discretion to not allow leasing on lands unavailable for leasing. Areas available for leasing are subdivided as follows:

  1. Open with Standard Lease Terms and Conditions - Areas open to leasing and subject to existing laws, regulations and formal orders and to the terms and conditions of the standard lease form.
  2. Open with Moderate Constraints - Areas open to leasing and subject to moderate constraints such as seasonal and controlled surface use restrictions. These are areas where it has been determined that moderately restrictive lease stipulations may be required to mitigate impacts to other land uses or resource values.
  3. Open with Major Constraints - Areas open to leasing and subject to major constraints such as no-surface-occupancy stipulations on an area more than 40 acres in size or more than 0.25 mile in width. These are areas where it has been determined that highly restrictive lease stipulations are required to mitigate impacts to other land uses or resource values.

Least Resource Use would designate more areas unavailable to leasing and impose more restrictive constraints than Most Resource Use, which would minimize restrictions and maximize the area open to leasing.

For more information, contact Caleb Hiner:  |  PO Box 119  |  Worland, WY 82401-0119

Phone: 307-347-5100  |  Fax: 307-347-5228  |  Email: