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  • Lauren Marsh

New Bureau of Land Management Plan Prioritizes Conservation

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Policy shift could benefit beloved areas in Southwest Wyoming

March 30, 2023 (Lander, WY) – Wyomingites welcomed today’s announcement of a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan to rebalance its policies to promote healthy landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean drinking water, and balanced decision-making. The policy clarifies that conservation, which includes restoration and protection, is a multiple use within the agency’s management framework, and

will ensure America’s public lands can be managed to sustain their heath, diversity, and productivity for current and future generations. The BLM plays a critical role in Wyoming, managing areas that are vitally important to the state’s conservation of water, wildlife, and growing interest in outdoor access.


The BLM has launched a 75-day comment period to gather public input on a proposed rule to update and modernize the agency’s tools and strategies for managing America’s public lands. The plan highlights the need for the agency to work with local communities to focus on the conservation of land, water, and wildlife to ensure communities can protect future access to federal public lands. It also encourages BLM managers to work more closely with tribal nations to ensure cultural resource protection in Wyoming and across the West. Two tribal co-stewardship proposals for Areas of Critical Environmental Concern have been submitted to the BLM in Wyoming for Boars Tusk and Indian Gap Trail. The new rule could help the agency prioritize protecting these important places, in partnership

with Tribal leaders. “ACECs are important as far as protecting cultural and traditional ecological knowledge,” said Yufna Soldier Wolf of the Indigenous Land Alliance of Wyoming. “Indigenous knowledge is ancient knowledge that needs to be taken seriously and every step of the BLM’s process needs to be invoked to protect and ensure that tribes, elders, and youth are engaged to pass that

knowledge on.”



Among Wyoming’s ecological riches, southwest Wyoming is known for its wide-open spaces and vast stretches of healthy sagebrush habitat. Keeping these places whole and managing for responsible recreation will be important for Wyoming’s economic future. Outdoor recreation supports over 15,000 direct jobs across the state—more jobs than oil and gas extraction and mining combined, and accounts

for $1.5 billion or 3.6% of the state’s GDP. Nearly 800,000 people participate in hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching in Wyoming each year, contributing $300 million to the state economy.


“Today’s announcement is a huge step in the right direction for wildlands across Wyoming and the West,” said Meghan Riley, from the Wyoming Outdoor Council. “Local communities across the state have worked for years to protect special public lands like the Northern Red Desert and Big Sandy Foothills, along with our world class ungulate migrations. We’ve needed a federal land management partner with clear direction to help us make these protections real. Today’s announcement sets the

stage for the BLM to prioritize habitat connectivity and work with local communities to meet our needs, while addressing the challenges from growth.”


The changing climate is affecting communities in Wyoming and across the west, threatening water supplies, causing severe storm impacts, and catastrophic fires, and making it more urgent that land management plans consider these impacts and accommodate local needs. Southwest Wyoming has fuel our nation for decades and has a rich heritage that speaks to that service–as well as lessons learned from the ups and downs of relying on those industries. Now, as the country shifts to renewable energy, it’s time to apply those lessons to designing a more diversified and stable future. Balanced land management plans can assist in slowing climate change while elevating the many uses of these lands that will keep communities prosperous and thriving.


Wyoming’s landscape is vast but vulnerable to a growing array of threats. Making conservation a multiple use on equal footing with the other uses of BLM managed lands will result in healthy local communities, water, and wildlife—and act as a buffer against the worst impacts of drought, wildfire, and extreme weather. Establishing a robust conservation framework for BLM lands now will help protect our natural and cultural heritage and provide real opportunities for solutions that benefit all of Wyoming far into the future.


Contacts:

-Lauren Marsh, Wyoming Wilderness Association, lauren@wildwyo.org, 205.807.4783

-Meghan Riley, Wyoming Outdoor Council, meghan@wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org, 307.488.8214

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