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PBPA Comments on BLM Conservation Rule

July 5, 2023

Re: Comments on BLM’s Proposed Rulemaking on Conservation and Landscape Health, 88 Fed. Reg.

19583 (April 3, 2023); RIN 1004‐AE92

Dear Director Stone‐Manning:

BLM’s proposed rulemaking on Conservation and Landscape Health (Proposed Rule) codifying conservation as a multiple use under the Federal Land and Policy Management Act (FLPMA) unlawfully expands the original intent of FLPMA and revises the priorities and focus of land use management. While FLPMA calls for protection of the environment, water, and cultural resources, it does not identify conservation as a use. Certainly, conservation is a goal and land use action that we as an industry fully support. Our members are committed to environmentally responsible operations, but we are concerned that the Proposed Rule impermissibly exceeds BLM’s directive to manage multiple uses of public lands. The authority to add conservation as a use under FLPMA is reserved for Congress, thereby rendering BLM unable to fully implement the Proposed Rule unless and until such time as FLPMA is amended by Congress. As such, BLM must withdraw this Proposed Rule.

The Proposed Rule is outside the bounds of FLPMA and contrary to congressional intent. Under FLPMA, Congress tasked BLM with managing public lands for the “multiple use and sustained yield” of resources. FLPMA specifically defines “principal or major uses” as limited to mineral exploration and production, livestock grazing, rights‐of‐way, fish and wildlife development, recreation, and timber. Further, FLPMA mandates public lands are to “be managed in a manner which recognizes the Nation’s need for domestic sources of minerals, food, timber, and fiber”. By adding conservation as a multiple use, BLM prioritizes ecological resilience and intact landscapes in land use management over productive uses which expands the intent of FLPMA and provides BLM an avenue to preclude FLPMA‐defined uses on public lands. This is only emphasized by the lack of explanation for how FLPMA or...

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