CA Conservation Groups Praise Feds’ Proposal for Managing Public Land
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
The feds are seeking public comment now through June 20th on a proposal to put habitat restoration and conservation on equal footing with mining, drilling, logging, ranching, and off-roading on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management manages 15 million acres in California, or 15% of the state. The proposal would also help address climate change and foster better consultation with Native American tribes.
Pamela Flick, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said native habitat on BLM land is losing out to energy development, livestock grazing, unsustainable recreation and climate impacts.
"For nearly 40 years, the agency has largely focused on resource extraction and other multiple uses, but neglected managing public lands for ecosystems health and wildlife. This rulemaking gives the BLM an opportunity to rebalance its priorities," Flick said.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and Public Lands Council oppose the rule change, saying in a statement that it would "completely upend BLM's multiple-use mandate and jeopardize the agency's ability to be a good partner to the ranchers who manage millions of acres across the West," the council said in a statement.
More than 85% of the land managed by the BLM is open to oil development, mining and logging, and conservatives in Congress have blocked the Public Lands Act, which would protect more than one-million acres in the Golden State.
Ryan Henson, senior policy director for the nonprofit Cal Wild, said this new rule could be a workaround.
"Last session, it passed the House twice and could never pass the Senate. And then this session, it's got a great chance of passing the Senate, but zero chance of passing the House," he said. "So, this new BLM policy allows President Biden to do what Congress can't do - but to do it administratively."
Henson added the new rule could inform the upcoming Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan, which is expected this summer.
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