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Bureau of Land Management Publishes Final Conservation Rule

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published its final Conservation and Landscape Health rule on April 18th. RMFU expressed concerns with several aspects of the draft rule during the comment period. We contributed throughout the rule-making process and are disappointed that public input wasn’t taken into account and little changed in the final published rule

Our member-led policy embraces the principles of conservation-based management, and we value the role that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plays in protecting and sustaining the renewable resources that family-scale ranchers depend upon for our livelihood. Foundational to the improvement of these vital public resources is the need to create partnerships and collaborative relationships so these valuable assets be sustained responsibly. However, the final rule runs counter to this goal and will lead users down a collision course.

For decades, BLM has operated under a system known as multiple use. This system balances several uses to navigate extractive uses like oil and gas production or mining with uses that provide a sustainable yield like grazing, while also allowing responsible recreation. Striking this balance is certainly not easy and we agree that BLM has not always managed these resources as best as possible. We at RMFU see an opportunity to incentivize collaboration and active management to restore areas that are degraded while maintaining multiple uses.

Unfortunately, the rule as published makes conservation leases largely independent from other uses meaning that these projects are likely to impact grazing allotment reauthorizations and recreational uses. We know that access to these allotments is critical for our family ranchers and our policy clearly supports standards that prioritize the health and resiliency of working lands through quality stewardship.

The good thing about a rule is that it can be rewritten. We will continue to press BLM to adopt standards that support our family ranchers; standards that allow them tools like adaptive management and that incentivize cooperation among users and the conservation community. We cannot support not a system like the published rule sets – one likely to box out grazing as an important management tool and impacts recreational opportunities.

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