Skip to main content

Proposed BLM Public Lands Rule

Updated June 15, 2023 with June 8 webinar with Third Act

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the largest steward of public land, has launched a 75-Day comment period to gather feedback about ways it should balance its mission to focus on cultural lands protection, conservation, recreation, wildlife, and climate impacts for the lands and waters that support Western communities. 

Nearly 40% of all US public lands are overseen by the BLM, whose mission is to manage public lands for multiple use and sustained yield—a mandate that includes conservation. Yet 90% of the lands managed by the agency are open to extraction and other commodity-driven development.

As the environment around us changes, the BLM must adopt modernized policies that prioritize natural systems and balanced management practices. This rulemaking procedure allows the BLM to better address the growing pressures and impacts on Western communities from climate-related impacts—like wildfires and drought to increased demand for recreation and access to nature—while also developing an inclusive conservation approach that includes co-stewardship and co-management with Tribal nations who have cared for these lands and waters for several millennia.

The rules give the BLM guidance and direction to:

  • Manage for resilient ecosystems that will endure a changing climate.
  • Protect intact landscapes that provide critical wildlife habitat, clean air and water.
  • Apply land health standards, based in part on Indigenous knowledge.

This is a good start—however, this is our opportunity to be bold, be brave, and be Broads by advocating for stronger protections and asking the hard questions.

The Issue

The proposed Public Lands Rule is far from perfect, though. In fact, there are some very troubling aspects, including:


  • The protection and restoration of ecosystem biodiversity has to be a primary consideration of any Public Lands rules. In the proposed rules, the term “biodiversity” is virtually absent!

The Definition of “Restoration”

  • The BLM considers replanting invasive, non-native plant species (typically preferred by grazing livestock) as “restoration.”
  • The BLM needs to more sharply define “restoration” to mean an area’s return to its natural, native ecological state—and NOT simply replanting a damaged landscape with more invasive plant species for cows!

Conservation Leasing

  • 10-year “conservation leases” would be issued to businesses, individuals, non-governmental organizations, and Tribal entities that would set aside the leased area for “restoration or land enhancement.” As mentioned, “restoration” is already a vague term in the BLM—and “land enhancement” could mean virtually anything.
  • What happens to that land after the 10-year lease expires? Could oil, gas, and mining industries use these leases as a way to “mitigate” the larger damage they do to public lands elsewhere?
  • The BLM considers livestock grazing as a “restoration tool” despite the obvious damage grazing does to a natural landscape—would ranchers be able to obtain a conservation lease, then use the land for grazing? Who pays for the restoration activities—the leaseholder or the BLM?
  • Why offer conservation leasing—and the potential for its abuse—when these lands should be protected under existing federal laws that need to be enforced? The potential pitfalls of conservation leasing far outweigh the benefits.

Take Action!

The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed BLM Public Lands Rule is July 5, 2023!

Tell the BLM that the new Public Lands Rule needs to make biodiversity (and not the dietary considerations of cattle) a primary consideration when making public lands management decisions. Tell them if conservation leases are going to exist they need to be for actual, meaningful conservation use—NOT as a new loophole for the oil, gas, mining, logging, and ranching industries!

This is a rare opportunity to help decide how the BLM manages our public lands and wilderness for years to come—make your voice heard today!

Public Commenting Closes July 5!

Click here to submit your formal comments to the BLM on the proposed Public Lands Rule.

You can also submit written comments via mail to:
U.S. Department of the Interior
Director (630), Bureau of Land Management
1849 C St. NW, Room 5646
Washington, DC 20240
Attention: 1004–AE92.

Sample Letter

New Resources (6/7/23)!

Talking points specific to grazing
(from Western Watershed Project)

PEER Fact Sheet Rangeland Health & BLM Grazing Programs

Remember to personalize comments with your own experiences or reasons for action, and then please let us know when you comment!