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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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A Milestone for Major Federal Land-Management Law

The BLM oversees one out of every ten acres of land in the nation, including Wyoming's Devil's Playground. (Zzyzx/Wikimedia Commons)
The BLM oversees one out of every ten acres of land in the nation, including Wyoming's Devil's Playground. (Zzyzx/Wikimedia Commons)
October 21, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – On this day in 1976, President Gerald Ford signed legislation that changed the way the feds oversee millions of acres of land, requiring for the first time that they be managed with conservation in mind. Before the Federal Land Policy Management Act or FLPMA, the Bureau of Land Management often sold off acreage for oil and gas, mining and ranching.

Julia Stuble, public lands advocate with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the Act ensures the public has a say in protecting natural landscapes and resources.

"These are our birthright, these are our public lands," she said. "They're managed in what's a balanced way, and we need to be a part of the conversations about how to balance them, and we need to make sure that we demand that they remain public, for everybody."

The BLM manages more than 17 million acres of public lands in Wyoming, and over 40 million acres of the nation's mineral holdings in the state.

Ken Rait, the director of U.S. Public Lands with The Pew Charitable Trusts, said a number of environmental threats to BLM lands persist across the West.

"Ninety percent of our public lands are open to oil and gas leasing, and 36 million acres are currently leased for oil and gas," he said. "Additionally, there are 340,000 1872 mining claims covering more than 7 million acres across our public land."

He added that BLM lands generate an estimated $2.8 billion a year for the economy.

Bruce Babbitt, the former secretary of the Interior, said these lands are much more valuable to the public when they remain open for outdoor pursuits.

"The recreational value, in terms of hunting, fishing, whitewater rafting, bird watching, camping, are really the biggest component of economic value to the surrounding communities and states," he said.

Public lands managed by the BLM in Wyoming include the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and the Cedar Mountain, Devils Playground and Twin Buttes Wildlife Study Areas.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY