A Conservationist’s Guide to BLM Planning and Decision-Making Using FLPMA and NEPA to Protect Public Lands

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

This citizen's guide contains a toolbox, analysis, and progressive policy framework for the protection and management of irreplaceable landscapes on public lands managed by the BLM. The laws and policies discussed in the guide are important not just to attorneys. They are vital and practical components of all advocacy efforts, and they are important to all citizens in all circumstances.

Whether you are drafting comments, crafting a concise political message, communicating to politicians, educating fellow citizens, or challenging an illegal action, a good understanding of law and policy is a necessity. In fact, a strong argument can be made that our public lands face continued threats and ongoing degradation because the law has been ignored, circumvented, diluted, misinterpreted, and misapplied for decades. Law, fundamentally, is a single strand in a web that weaves together people and place. Without informed citizens to ensure that the BLM follows applicable law and policy, the risk and adverse impact to the land only intensifies.

It is absolutely vital for individuals and groups of conservationists to assert legally and factually defensible arguments during BLM planning and decision-making processes. Because decision-makers and the courts often defer to agency decisions, it is difficult to challenge a given management action on appeal or in court. If you assert your arguments while planning and decision-making are underway, the BLM may reject or appropriately modify an adverse decision. Furthermore, you define the debate on your terms — refusing to merely respond to the agency's actions — and establish a solid administrative record, thus making easier the inherently difficult task of challenging the decision on appeal or through the courts.

To help individuals and coalition groups, this guide condenses a significant amount of information into a single source. Each chapter is designed to stand alone, leading to quick and easy access to necessary information without compromising depth of detail. This means that some information and some suggestions are repeated in different places. You don't have to read the guide from front to back; simply go to the chapter that interests you the most.

Although the guide is lengthy, keep in mind that many decisions take years to reach, the issues you will face are often wildly disparate, small opportunities to change BLM decisions abound that in total can have a powerful effect, and, finally, many issues, although not charismatic or politically cogent in the near term, have significant implications over the long term. The guide attempts to establish a basic framework that is helpful and sufficiently flexible in any situation you might encounter to ensure long-term protection of our public lands.

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BLM-Citizen-s-Guide-full-report.pdf7.28 MB