Earlier this year in March, President Donald Trump signed legislation into law (H.J. Res. 44) that repealed recently completed planning regulations that were meant to increase transparency and provide more public input on resource management plans for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. The Planning 2.0 regulations were the first updates since 1983 for the Bureau of Land Management which manages the most federal lands of any agency.
Since the repeal of planning 2.0 The BLM has requested comments and input from the public to improve their land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes. Washington Wild was one of nearly 50 conservation organizations signed on to a joint comment letter to the BLM with a number of recommendations on ways to improve these processes going forward, making them more transparent, more efficient, less contentious and less costly. They also encouraged the BLM to consider more avenues for public input, pointing out that often these lengthy and complicated processes often leave people overwhelmed. The BLM should focus on maximizing opportunities for public input and engage in more regular public outreach for planning projects on our public lands. Read the comment letter here.
Washington State has more than 400,000 acres of BLM lands, almost entirely in eastern Washington, including inspiring landscapes like the Juniper Dunes Wilderness, Chopaka Mountain Wilderness Study Area and the Yakima River Canyon. In 2014 a study found that local Washington communities near federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management benefited from millions of dollars in spending as the result of visitors who came to enjoy non-motorized recreation, such as hiking, hunting, and camping, or “Quiet Recreation.” Later this year a resource management plan will be released for public comment making this issue particularly important for our BLM lands.