Rounds, Thune and Johnson Oppose Rule to Limit BLM Land Use
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Tracy Stone-Manning urging immediate withdrawal of the BLM’s proposed rule for “Conservation and Landscape Health.”
The proposed rule would authorize the BLM to prioritize conservation practices over current standards for multiple-use land. This includes public lands used for livestock grazing, recreation, mineral extraction, renewable energy production and other common uses.
“In South Dakota, the BLM manages more than 274,000 surface acres and around 1.7 million acres of subsurface minerals,” said the delegation. “From the prairie to pine forests, the BLM manages important uses for our constituents, including livestock grazing, mineral extraction, timber, and recreational activities such as hunting, off-road driving, camping, hiking, and mountain biking. We are concerned the new definitions and frameworks in this proposal will severely restrict how our constituents interact with public lands.”
“The framework for conservation leases in the proposal could threaten responsible uses of the land by allowing the BLM to limit any use of leased land that is deemed ‘inconsistent’ with the framework. This new process has the potential to lock away land for more than a decade, keeping out hunters, livestock owners who graze on public lands, and American taxpayers and tourists who want to enjoy the great outdoors,” continued the delegation.
There are 245 million surface acres of BLM land across the country, including South Dakota. This land is already under management plans and strict Federal protection.
The proposed rule creates a framework for BLM “conservation leases,” without congressional approval, that would prevent the use of land that is inconsistent with their framework. This proposed action could prohibit access and public use of this land for ten or more years.
The proposed rule additionally gives BLM authority of interim management and implementation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, should one be nominated outside of the standard land use planning process. This authority would allow BLM access to manage these areas without input from state or local government, or the public.