Funding for Recreation on BLM Lands

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Andrea Imler
Americans love the iconic western lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and more would recreate here if there were only more trails.

The Wilderness Society is working with the BLM to grow more opportunities for quiet recreation. Our aim is to expand the network of trails set aside for hiking, walking and other non-motorized activity.

Recreation on Bureau of Land Management lands

The BLM is the largest landowner in the United States. It manages 245 million acres of land, most of it in the twelve western states.

Yet, these lands do not have as many recreation trails as the National Parks Service or other land agencies. Until now, the BLM has prioritized other uses for our land, such as grazing, energy and mineral extraction. But today, the demand for recreation is greater, so we must help the BLM adapt. 

Funding obstacles

Agency budgets pay for trail construction and maintenance, recreation facilities and staff. So the amount of money available to the agency has a big impact on the quality of the recreation experience.

The Wilderness Society works hard to make sure the Bureau of Land Management has adequate funding. However, because of the way the agency's budget is structured, it is difficult to determine how much of it is devoted to recreation. The agency draws from sources in its budget to pay for its recreation programs, but there is no detailed breakdown for these programs specifically.

Hope on the horizon

Because BLM land was historically wide open rangeland, it is only now beginning to focus on the kinds of linear trail systems that most recreationists look for to explore new areas.

We are working with several national partners and local grass roots organizations to expand the BLM trails system so that the spectacular places on BLM lands will be more welcoming to non-motorized recreationists.

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