BLM Public Lands Rule Brings Balance to Public Lands Management

Authors: Becky Edwards and Jen Clanahan

As Mamas, we are constantly seeking balance, whether it is managing our responsibilities at work and home, finding time for our own interests, budgeting or, quite literally, when we are teaching our children to ride bikes or trek across a log over a stream. Balance keeps things in check and benefits all of us.

It is in the spirit of balance that the new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Public Lands Rule was penned. Previously, the management of these public lands has focused on other uses, while conservation has been left out of the equation. Drilling, grazing, ranching and recreation were taken into consideration, but not conservation and land preservation. Until now.

Recently, the Department of the Interior announced a final rule to guide the BLM on how to manage for resilient ecosystems that will weather a changing climate, protect existing landscapes that provide critical wildlife habitat, clean air and water, and take into consideration how communities are impacted by a changing world. These decisions will be made based on science, data and Indigenous knowledge.

While the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the act that created and directs the BLM, does require it to protect public lands, the Public Lands Rule provides guidance and resources to achieve it. It will give land managers tools to protect, restore and maintain our public lands and waters.

This rule could not have come at a more crucial time. Our public lands are feeling the strain of climate change and increased use. Recognizing that we are at a pivotal point in time where we must preserve, protect and properly manage our public lands, the new rule will bring balance to how we do that now and how we plan to pass these treasured lands to future generations.

Our public lands are the backbone of our way of life in the Western states. They are where we teach our kids to hunt, fish, camp and hike. They are where we go ourselves to harvest meat to feed our families, relax, play and slow down from our busy lives.

Communities situated near these lands and waters are changing too. Some are experiencing the benefits of booming economies, while others scramble to maintain their way of life as once-sleepy towns get busier. About 4.3 million jobs are created across the U.S. through outdoor recreation, like hunting, boating and hiking, on public lands. These activities contribute about $11.4 billion to the national economy, especially impacting gateway communities to these areas. Now, there will be new opportunities for people to engage in decision-making when it comes to issues that are close to home.

We are grateful that we are able to enjoy these varied and vast lands with our families. We believe it is our responsibility to care for them during our time here and maintain them for our kids, and theirs. This new rule will help ensure that these treasured lands remain healthy and ready to welcome future generations.

We would like to thank Montanan and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning for her leadership on the rule and Montana Sen. Jon Tester and Colorado’s Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper for their support.

Bios: Becky Edwards is the Executive Director of the Mountain Mamas, and lives in Montana with her husband and three daughters. Jen is the Co-director of Mountain Mamas, and lives in Colorado with her family.

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