Sample Letter — BLM Public Lands Rule
The following is a sample letter to help guide your own comments to the Bureau of Land Management on their proposed new Public Lands Rule.
DON’T SIMPLY COPY AND PASTE! Please remember to personalize the letter with your own thoughts and opinions on the proposed rule. Then remember to tell us that you spoke up!
Dear Tracy Stone-Manning, Director, Bureau of Land Management
Thank you for initiating a plan to bring balance to the BLM with the proposed “Conservation and Landscape Health Rule” (RIN: 1004–AE92, aka the “Public Lands Rule”). I support the Public Lands Rule and encourage you to strengthen it to help ensure a vibrant future for western communities’ water supplies, wildlife, and way of life that make the region unique.
It’s time for BLM to elevate conservation to help sustain the nation’s iconic open landscapes of the West that offer refuge for wildlife, provide public access to nature, and safeguard innumerable stories of human experiences on the land. Expanding co-stewardship with Tribal nations will bring traditional knowledge and incorporate Indigenous expertise to decision-making to ensure these lands remain healthy and support us in the future.
While the draft rule is an important step forward, I believe it needs strengthening prior to its finalization with respect to the following:
First, the protection and restoration of ecosystem biodiversity must be the primary consideration to give conservation the same priority as ranching and industry. But in the proposed rules, the term “biodiversity” is virtually absent!
(Your personalized comments here. Have you seen a decline in biodiversity on BLM lands you visit? Please describe. Why is ensuring an ecosystem is biodiverse, especially given the effects of a changing climate?)
Second, there has to be real meaning behind the word “restoration.” Unfortunately, the BLM considers replanting invasive plant species for livestock grazing as “restoration.” Landscape restoration means an area’s return to its natural, native ecological state—and there’s absolutely nothing restorative or natural about ignoring the needs of an ecosystem in favor of the needs of livestock!
(Your personalized comments here. Have BLM lands in your region been harmed by livestock or other activities? Please describe and how that those activities have impacted the land health. How should restoration be defined? How should restoration be better qualified to be true restoration?).)
Third, the concept of “conservation leases” raises many questions about who they would be issued to and how they are applied. Under these leases, land could be set aside for “restoration or land enhancement.” As mentioned, “restoration” is already a vague term in the BLM—and “land enhancement” could mean literally anything.
Under the current BLM definition of “restoration,” will ranchers be allowed to obtain these conservation leases and then simply use the land for grazing? What happens to the land at the conclusion of the 10-year lease? Will oil, gas, and mining industries be allowed to use these leases as a way to try and avoid paying for the damage they do to public lands elsewhere? Who pays for the restoration—the leaseholder or the BLM? Finally, why offer conservation leasing—and the potential for its abuse—when these lands should be protected under existing federal laws that often seem to go unenforced?
The potential pitfalls of conservation leasing far outweigh the benefits.
(Your personalized comments here. How would abuse of conservation leasing affect the BLM lands in your region? Are there local politics that would influence conservation leasing in a manner that would not be healthy for the land?)
If the BLM truly wants to elevate conservation, then it needs to ensure the proposed rule is written to encourage and enforce genuine conservation and restoration to prevent loose interpretation and exploitation by extractive and livestock industries.
Thank you again for your commitment to conserving and restoring America’s public lands and waters.