New rules add protection for special BLM sites

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Colorado's Canyon of the Ancients, near Grand Junction, could serve as a model for the management of other sites with special designations from the Bureau of Land Management.

The federal agency recently released new rules that put an emphasis on the protection of cultural and environmental resources. The Bureau has always had an overriding “multiple use” mandate for the federal lands it manages, which has frequently led to conflicts between the development of energy resources and preservation.

“We've consistently been disappointed that management plans for BLM national monuments and other conservation areas too often do not prioritize the protection of the very resources these places were created to highlight,” said Wilderness Society attorney Nada Culver. “The BLM has now made it clear that conservation trumps other uses, and that's good news for everyone who wants to see these special places appropriately protected for future generations, which we know includes many BLM managers.”

According to Culver, the BLM's new decision relies on the argument that monuments and national conservation areas are different from other BLM lands and should therefore be managed first and foremost for the conservation of natural and cultural resources over other uses found in the multiple-use mandate.