BLM needs more resources to properly manage public lands

June 16, 2023 - The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing nearly two-thirds of the land in Nevada, almost 48 million acres. Because these public lands are used in a variety of ways, proper management requires full staffing with a wide range of expertise and adequate planning tools. Unfortunately, BLM for too long has lacked the resources it needs and it's time for that to change as demands on the Bureau continue to grow. 

The BLM is tasked with an enormous range of responsibilities. It reviews applications and issues permits for uses ranging from grazing, mining and energy development to special events like Burning Man.

The Bureau “hosts” millions of outdoor recreationists each year who hike, camp, hunt, fish, stargaze and otherwise get away from it all. More recreational facilities are needed to meet growing demand and those that exist must be maintained. 

BLM offices are responsible for restoration of wildlife habitat and protection of other natural and cultural resources on National Conservation Lands such as Wilderness and National Conservation areas. We're grateful that Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen last year recognized the need for additional funding, which she secured. We're hopeful this trend continues so deferred conservation measures can be taken. 

The agency is constantly challenged to manage the wild horse and burro populations. The wildland fire management program now requires far more resources due to the frequency and intensity of fires as a result of climate change.

It’s public land, so BLM must solicit and review general public comments. And because BLM-managed lands are current and ancestral homelands of Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples, it’s critical that staff consults and collaborates with Tribal governments.

All of this is to say, again, that BLM staff is tasked with an enormous workload that continues to grow.  

For example, BLM is proposing a new rule that will significantly change how land use decisions are made by elevating conservation as a “use” on the order of more intensive uses like mining and grazing. The conservation community fully supports the proposal, and is advocating strongly for additional resources. Many conservation groups also support the Administration’s program to speed up development of alternative energy facilities and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. But the Bureau needs additional resources to also prioritize updating their antiquated planning documents so these facilities don’t threaten public lands with the highest conservation and recreational values.

The Bureau is asking Congress for $1.7 billion, a modest increase in its total annual budget for 2024. Given that 63% of the great state of Nevada is managed by BLM, we all have a stake in making sure BLM has the resources it needs to take care of our public lands.

Please contact Congressman Mark Amodei and Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen to say you care about our public lands and expect BLM Nevada to get the resources they need. Let’s make sure future generations are also able to experience public lands where the landscape is healthy, the stars are countless and special places remain to be discovered.

Purple mountain majesties - BLM managed-land in Pershing County
photo by Kurt Kuznicki

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