Threats and Challenges

Closed road and OHV damage through wildflowers below the Kingston Range, Silurian Valley, California
John Dittli
Our conservation lands face many challenges: understaffing, underfunding and shifting political priorities. The system’s lands and waters are also threatened by development, vandalism and neglect.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has an opportunity to showcase our nation’s extraordinary wild places, but this means taking action to address threats to our conservation lands.

The National Landscape Conservation System has continued to grow through its history. With this growth comes challenges and threats, which the BLM can limit through smart planning and conservation.

Major threats to our conservation lands include:

  • Off-road vehicles. Rules exist to prohibit motorized or mechanized travel “off road” to protect resources. But several land use plans leave routes open to off-road use through ambiguous and illegal definitions of “road.”
  • Damage to cultural resources. The BLM has inventoried cultural resources in only six to seven percent of our nation’s monument and conservation areas. This leaves many cultural resources at risk for looting, vandalism or vehicle damage.
  • Insufficient funding. The National Landscape Conservation System has long suffered from underfunding. Constituting ten percent of the BLM’s lands and accommodating one-third of its recreation visitation, the system receives only five percent of the BLM's budget. As a result, the BLM spends more to repair damage than it would spend to provide the necessary staff and other resources to protect and restore its culturally and naturally significant places.

Management and guidance

BLM now has official policy direction and a strategic plan for addressing challenges to the National Landscape Conservation Lands for the next 15 years. BLM faces the challenge of implementing the strategic plan to create meaningful and lasting gains for conservation lands.


Find out more by reading our reports, fact sheets and communications relating to the National Landscape Conservation System.

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