New BLM 2.0 Planning Process Allows Public More Say in Local Land Use Decisions

The National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska

Credit Bob Wick, BLM

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees about 250 million acres of public lands, which are owned by all Americans – and is looking at how all Americans get their say.

The agency decides how an array of uses and resources--ranging from grazing to energy development, wildlife habitat to wilderness, hunting to off-roading--occur on these lands. Right now, BLM is updating its process to ensure citizens who use and enjoy these lands get maximum involvement in their management. Through a new initiative called Planning 2.0, BLM seeks to engage the public in planning and decision making early on to avoid conflicts later, take a broader look across ecosystems – including wildlife migration patterns – and make plans more dynamic for future needs, including addressing the ways climate change is altering our public lands.

On Thursday, May 12, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will conduct a hearing that is set to ignore and even undermine these improvements, setting up false concerns on this proposed rule.  

Planning 2.0 would help respond to modern management challenges on our public lands through a more holistic approach. We are seeing this succeed in the California Desert and the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska where the BLM is planning for both opportunities for energy development and conservation of land to balance the future needs of the nation. The BLM has also hosted “envisioning” meetings in eastern Colorado, Montana and northwest California to get more information from all interested parties about how they use the land and their vision for the community before the agency officially begins its planning process.

Planning 2.0 would standardize these successful approaches, which also allow for increased participation by state and local governments, in addition to tribes, in the planning process. This BLM’s updated approach will also allow for more transparency, which is important where so many stakeholders have ideas for areas to be protected and uses to be allowed – and everyone wants to know how decisions are being made. Planning 2.0 is a much-needed game changer from decades-old policies that were hampering BLM decision-making and drawing criticism from local communities nearest the lands they oversee.    

“Getting more public input into management of public lands makes good sense for everyone,” said Nada Culver, Senior Director of Agency Planning and Policy. “More people than ever care about our public lands. Those involved in Thursday’s hearing should remember that all Americans can and should have a say, while we preserve the important contributions that local communities have and will continue to make to decisions on how these lands are managed.”