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Bureau of Land Management’s ‘Public Lands Rule’ Finalized

The Department of the Interior announced a finalized Public Lands Rule to help guide the balanced management of America’s public lands.

The Public Lands Rule provides tools for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to help improve the health and resilience of public lands in the face of a changing climate; conserve important wildlife habitat and intact landscapes; facilitate responsible development; and better recognize unique cultural and natural resources on public lands, BLM said in a release Thursday.

The Public Lands Rule builds on investments in public lands, waters and clean energy deployment provided by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which recognizes the critical value of our public lands to all Americans. It also complements the president’s America the Beautiful initiative, a 10-year, locally led and nationally scaled effort to protect, conserve, connect and restore the lands, waters and wildlife upon which we all depend.

Building on decades of land management experience and emphasizing the use of science and data, including Indigenous Knowledge, to guide balanced decision-making, the rule applies the existing fundamentals of land health across BLM programs, establishes restoration and mitigation leases, and clarifies practices to designate and protect Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs). The rule will help to ensure the BLM continues to protect land health while managing other uses of the public lands, such as clean energy development and outdoor recreation.

“As stewards of America’s public lands, the Interior Department takes seriously our role in helping bolster landscape resilience in the face of worsening climate impacts. Today’s final rule helps restore balance to our public lands as we continue using the best-available science to restore habitats, guide strategic and responsible development, and sustain our public lands for generations to come,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Complemented with historic investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are implementing enduring changes that will benefit wildlife, communities and habitats.”

“America’s public lands are our national treasures and need to be managed and made resilient for future generations of Americans,” said John Podesta, senior advisor to the president for international climate policy. “Today’s final rule from the Department of the Interior is a huge win for ensuring balance on our public lands, helping them withstand the challenges of climate change and environmental threats like invasive species, and making sure they continue to provide services to the American people for decades to come.”

“The Interior Department is ensuring our public lands are managed with an eye to future generations, complementing President Biden’s ambitious conservation agenda,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “From the most rugged backcountry spots to popular close-to-home recreation areas, these reforms will help deliver cleaner water, healthier lands, abundant wildlife and more recreation opportunities for all of us.”

The final rule comes amid growing pressures and historic challenges facing land managers, BLM said. The impacts of climate change — including prolonged drought, increasing wildfires and an influx of invasive species — pose increasing risks to communities, wildlife and ecosystems. The Public Lands Rule will help the BLM navigate changing conditions on the ground, while helping public lands continue to serve as economic drivers across the West.

“The BLM received and considered over 200,000 comments on the proposed rule from individuals, state, Tribal and local governments, industry groups and advocacy organizations, which led to important improvements in this final rule,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Dr. Steve Feldgus. “Continued broad collaboration with this diverse group of partners will be key to our implementation of this rule to ensure that our public lands are being managed for all Americans.”

“Our public lands provide wildlife habitats and clean water, the energy that lights our homes, the wood we build with and the places where we make family memories,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, BLM director. “This rule honors our obligation to current and future generations to help ensure our public lands and waters remain healthy amid growing pressures and change.”

Read the full release from the Bureau of Land Management here.

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