Protecting BLM Lands

Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are vast and diverse, full of beauty and history. We believe these lands are worth preserving.

The BLM Action Center

Public lands are precisely that: lands for and owned by the public. The approach of The Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center is grounded in the concept that American citizens play a pivotal role in determining management for approximately 250 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. We work with the BLM, the public, and conservation organizations to bring about public policies and on-the-ground management decisions that protect wildlands and carefully balance conservation with development on our shared lands.

Otero Mesa, New Mexico, by Mason Cummings

The BLM Action Center aims to shape the future of BLM land protection in America’s beloved wild places like Utah's canyon country, Colorado's Vermillion Basin and Otero Mesa in southern New Mexico.

The lands managed by the BLM are changing quickly as a result of human activity. Energy development, off-road vehicle use, and a multitude of other activities have their place on public lands, but can also threaten our remaining wild places.  The Wilderness Society works to ensure our remaining wildlands are protected for hiking and camping, wildlife habitat and many other natural, cultural and scientific values that benefit from wilderness conservation.

Our research, analysis and legal expertise support informed community participation in land use planning and public lands management decisions. From helping local citizens weigh in on land management planning to providing scientific research that informs smart policy development, we engage in the entirety of the policy and decision-making process to ensure conservation has a place.

Photo: A Monument Advisory Council meeting at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, by TWS staff Phil Hanceford.


The focus of our work

Achieving the BLM's conservation mission

Araviapa Canyon, Arizona, by Scott Jones, flickr.

The BLM is responsible for managing a wide range of lands and resources, as well as the types of activities that take place on those lands.  Energy development and grazing are two well-known activities the BLM manages, but there is another very important mission. Conservation is an integral, yet often overlooked, part of the agency’s responsibilities.  We work to help the BLM embrace its conservation legacy by ensuring that conservation objectives are integrated into BLM plans and policies.


Protecting lands with wilderness characteristics

Otero Mesa, New Mexico, by Mason Cummings

The BLM Action Center is dedicated to protecting particularly valuable public lands: those with wilderness characteristics. Lands with wilderness characteristics have exceptional natural features and are places Americans can enjoy and find solitude. Across landscapes and in BLM land use plans, protecting lands with wilderness characteristics yields benefits to both conservation and outdoor experiences.

Learn how we protect lands with wilderness characteristics.




Providing opportunities for non-motorized recreation

McKenna Peak, Colorado, by Soren Jespersen

An extensive network of off-road vehicle trails and roads traverses much of our public lands. Keeping some of our land accessible to a non-motorized experience is an important means of protecting our natural heritage.  We consider the increasingly rare opportunities for quiet and primitive recreation on BLM lands to be a resource that all people should be able to experience.


Balancing energy development with conservation

Oil development at Jonah Field, Wyoming, by Ecoflight

BLM lands increasingly play host to energy development, which has real, often unavoidable consequences for wild places, wildlife, water, and recreation. We support processes that minimize the footprint from energy development and ensure that impacts to a landscape from energy development are offset by conserving wild lands and important habitat. We are encouraging the BLM to promote a smart from the start energy strategy that avoids development in the most sensitive areas and guides development to the right place at the right pace.


Addressing the climate crisis on public lands

San Juan Islands National Monument, Washington, by BLM Oregon-Washington flickr stream

Climate change poses significant challenges for protecting America’s remaining wild places. The lands managed by the BLM are no exception. Creative and comprehensive policy decisions can ensure these large tracts of land will support wildlife and outdoor recreation in the face of a rapidly changing climate for generations to come. Adapting to climate change should be a priority for BLM land management, which is why our policy team works to support smart and careful renewable energy development on BLM lands and position our public lands to adapt through science-based land management planning.

Learn more about how we work on BLM lands.

  • Michael Reinemer

    Senator Cantwell, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has scheduled a hearing in Seattle on August 27 to examine wildfire issues.  Senator John Barrasso, who chairs that committee’s Public Lands, Forests and Mining subcommittee, is also scheduled to participate in the hearing.

  • Tim Woody

    When President Obama visits Alaska at the end of August, climate change will be a key focus of his trip. The Wilderness Society developed the following memo to provide a brief primer on key Alaska public lands where the effects of climate change can already be seen. This information is intended to ease your research and inform your reporting during the president’s visit. It focuses on four areas where the president’s administration has made major, important decisions:

  • Anastasia Greene

    “We are heartened to see that President Obama is focusing on clean energy as part of building an enduring environmental legacy in the last 18 months of his presidency, and the Clean Power Plan is a good start,” said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, one of the oldest conservation groups in the United States. "This administration has shifted the role our public lands play in powering the nation. We have solar projects on public lands for the first time ever.