Who Approves Plans for Land Management? 

During the past thirty years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued regulations that established a land use planning system for public lands. These regulations included lessons learned from hundreds of land use plans and helped to clarify the process. In 2005, the regulations were amended again. This time, the final rule provided a new term for FLPMA land use plans, “resource management plans,” to clarify the process. It also introduced new steps that will enhance the timeliness and effectiveness of land use plans. 

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A resource management plan generally consists of an interdisciplinary team, under the direction of the BLM field manager, that identifies and assesses resources in a geographic area. This information is used to determine the priorities for management and the appropriate management strategy for a region. In addition to these components, plans are also required to include a landscape-scale mitigation strategy to identify conservation priorities within a region. These strategies are required to support the multiple-use missions of Congress. 

Land management approval is a process that is used to ensure the safety, health, and sustainability of a place. The process begins with an inquiry into the potential effects of proposed land changes on the environment or social fabric. Then, officials review and analyze the data to determine if the change is in line with local guidelines. If it is, they will approve the change. If not, they will provide feedback and recommendations to help future landowners make better decisions.

The planning process is designed to consider the issues of land use at multiple scales and to be sensitive to the needs of the public. It requires that the BLM, cooperating agencies, and State and local governments work together to coordinate a range of resource-related policies and to analyze data. In addition, the BLM must involve the public in planning. In some cases, stakeholders may file a protest before the BLM makes a final decision on the plan. The purpose of a protest is to identify any inconsistencies between federal laws, regulations, or policies and the plan. 

In the West, population growth is increasing and there are a variety of issues to consider. These issues often cross traditional jurisdictional and administrative boundaries and require that BLM and other agencies consider the impacts of their actions on the landscape. These issues require an assessment that is based on quality information. In addition, landscape-scale planning is essential to the management of multiple-use missions. 

As a result, the BLM has been working with stakeholders, state and local governments, and other federal agencies to improve the process. These changes will make it easier for BLM to coordinate with other agencies, reduce the need for data gathering and supplemental analyses, and make land use plans more efficient. In addition, the new steps will help improve BLM’s ability to work with tribal governments. 

The BLM also held a series of public listening sessions in Colorado and California in the fall of 2014. These sessions gave stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback on the initial ideas for updating land use planning rules. The feedback from these meetings formed the basis for the final rule. 

The BLM also released a strategic plan in 2011 that highlighted the growing challenges that confront public lands managers. These challenges include the proliferation of landscape-scale environmental change agents, increasing demand for renewable energy sources in the West, and the growing diversity of user activities on public lands.