Outdoors blog

Conservation a priority on some BLM lands

PUBLIC LANDS --Conservation got an edge in management considerations on a portion of western Bureau of Land Management areas under an order signed late last year by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Salazar's order clarifies that the Bureau of Land Management should treat conservation as a top priority in managing the 27-million acre National Landscape Conservation System. The bureau also promotes grazing, energy development and tourism on the total of 245 million acres under its jurisdiction.

Some BLM lands, such as Washington's Juniper Dunes, already have the strict protections of wilderness designation. But other choice BLM lands have less secure protections.
The Clinton administration created the NLCS in 2000 to protect and restore nationally significant landscapes, mostly in the West. Congress formally approved the landscape system last year.
The National Landscape Conservation System includes more than 886 federally recognized areas and approximately 27 million acres of national monuments, national conservation areas, wilderness study areas, wild and scenic rivers, conservation lands and national scenic and historic trails, including BLM segments of the Pacific Crest Trail.
In Wyoming, for example, the BLM manages 42 wilderness study areas (575,000 acres), five national historic trails, the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and one national scenic trail -- the Continental Divide Trail. All are considered units of the National Landscape Conservation System.
In Idaho, the BLM manages NLCS units that encompass approximately 3.5 million acres of public land.
Montana's NLCS lands include the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument and 39 wilderness study areas.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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