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BLM's "Planning 2.0" to Put Public at Center of Process

The BLM is accepting public input on new rules that would change the agency's blueprint for managing activities on public lands, including grazing, resource extraction and outdoor recreation. (Pixabay)
The BLM is accepting public input on new rules that would change the agency's blueprint for managing activities on public lands, including grazing, resource extraction and outdoor recreation. (Pixabay)
April 11, 2016

DENVER - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is hoping to get out in front of any future "sagebrush rebellions" by putting the reigns of managing public lands into public hands.

Joel Webster, western lands director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, part of a coalition including the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited that has been urging the BLM to reform how activities are managed on federal lands since 2008.

Webster says the new rules would allow the public to decide what happens on lands owned by all Americans.

"It's a great opportunity to provide that input to the agency before they start the planning process," he says. "Which will ultimately result in better plans but also just more higher level of public satisfaction in how their public lands are managed."

The BLM is accepting public comments on the proposed rule change until April 25, and will hold a public webinar Wednesday.

Dave Leinweber is a fishing guide and owner of Angler's Covey in Colorado Springs.

He says outdoor recreation is big business in Colorado, pumping about $34 billion into the state's economy every year and most of it takes place on public lands.

He says the new rules give hunters and anglers a chance to be real stakeholders in the management process.

"We need a seat at the table," says Leinweber. "Outdoor rec is just as important as grazing, just as important as mining, just as important as any other land use and we want to have a voice for that."

He's encouraging anyone who enjoys hunting, camping, fishing or hiking to get involved before the public comment phase closes.

Leinweber adds instead of calling for the takeover of federal lands, this is an opportunity to address real management challenges, and to hold the BLM accountable in the future.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO