Feb. 27, 2017
CALL TO ACTION
Contact our WY US Senators – Vote “YES” on BLM Planning 2.0
Planning 2.0 by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a 21st century solutions measure for the public to better engage in natural resource land use planning. Right now there is a rush in Congress to dismantle the BLM’s Planning 2.0 initiative. The House passed a resolution to undo the rule under the Congressional Review Act and the Senate could follow suit soon.
The BLM wants and desperately needs Congress to pass this rule. What it means is the agency can be more effective at its primary job, creating long term land use plans for multiple-use, including conservation of wildlife and recreational opportunities. With Planning 2.0, the public and nonprofit groups like the Wyoming Wildlife Federation can have the ability to fully engage with such planning efforts from the start. These land management plans are really important to western states like Wyoming where half the land in the state is under federal control. BLM plays a vital role in how our public lands out west are used, whether for recreation, habitat protection or oil and gas development.
To offer some context, the nation’s natural resource agencies have long moved away from species-by-species management and turned toward ecosystem based approaches. The BLM has progressed along a similar path with the aim to better refine its important land use planning role. The agency has done this by creating plans that consider the broader landscape when it comes to multiple use and sustainable yield, as opposed to a parcel-by-parcel or program-by-program basis.
This is an important point because it has some critics uneasy, thinking landscape in scale means landscape in scale protections. This is a misnomer because what landscape considerations by the BLM really means is the agency can better consider tradeoffs in land use planning. For example, an area may be deemed economically viable for oil and gas drilling, but not in another part of the landscape because of critical winter range for elk or vital aquatic habitat for native cutthroat trout. These are the tradeoffs BLM can consider on a landscape or watershed scale. But with Planning 2.0, it goes even a step further by allowing the public, including groups such as the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, to attend all meetings on these plans and participate from the start. Currently, only cooperating agencies can participate in the early BLM planning meetings, with public comment way down the road, sometimes years out and when alternatives have already been crafted.
What has also come to light in natural resource and federal land management is the public has a right to know and a right to get involved. Planning 2.0 allows the public to directly engage versus having to rely on these cooperating agencies that really only have their constituents in mind, not the public or in our case, hunters and anglers. This rule will certainly help the BLM with accountability.
Planning 2.0 came about because the agency recognized its inefficiency in public engagement and made this effort to do something about it. Planning 2.0 offers the BLM a way to bring the agency into the 21st century of transparency in government, and provides an opportunity for the public to have a voice in decision making processes that impact the vary lands they value and utilize for their outdoor recreation.
Planning 2.0 is about transparency in the process and for which all concerned can get involved, from local citizens to tribal communities, nonresidents to national interest groups. This is not an “overreach” as has been described by some members in Congress who are opposed to the rule. In fact, Planning 2.0 gives the federal government more leeway for providing the public with a more effective means of having a stake in the resources that belong to them, to all Americans. Planning 2.0 is a rule Congress needs to stand for because it gives power to the people.