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BLM’s Description of Itself

BLM’s Description of Itself


The Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) might best be described as a small
agency with a big mission and a lot of ground to cover. As the Nation's
largest land manager, the BLM is responsible for more than 260 million
acres of public land-nearly one-eighth of all land in the United
States-and 700 million acres of Federal subsurface mineral estate

Where are the public lands?

Most of the BLM's land is located in the American West and Alaska-its
holdings comprise about one of every five acres in the West-although the
agency does manage significant tracts east of the Mississippi River.
Land under the BLM's jurisdiction is the legacy of territory originally
claimed by the Federal government early in the Nation's history. Much of
the 1.8 billion acres of public land was either claimed for homesteads,
railroads, and other private purposes or reserved as parks, wildlife
refuges, national forests, military bases, or for other public uses. The
BLM manages what remains-once-disregarded lands that today are prized
for the array of values they contain.

Why are the public lands important?

The public lands serve several important functions. As the West's
population has grown since World War II, the BLM has had to meet a
corresponding rise in public demand for uses such as recreation,
wildlife, and open space. At the same time, BLM lands have provided
energy and minerals, forage, forest products, and other goods to a
growing Nation.

Even today, these lands produce vast amounts of coal, oil, natural gas,
wind power, and geothermal energy that help meet the Nation's needs. In
doing so, the agency has shown repeatedly that the public lands can
accommodate uses as diverse as energy production, recreation, and open
space. In recent years, technological advances have enabled energy
producers to operate on the public lands in ways that are more
environmentally conscious than ever before, extracting resources more
efficiently while further lessening the effects on the land.

Providing energy is just a part of what the BLM does, however. BLM lands
are also crucial areas for meeting the pressure of population growth,
acting as critical open-space buffers as western cities and towns
expand. Furthermore, the BLM carries out an array of conservation
programs throughout the public lands, such as protecting threatened or
endangered species, restoring valuable riparian habitat, and preserving
historical and paleontological resources.

How does the BLM manage the public lands?

The BLM manages for a range of uses that is as broad as it is
impressive. The mix of allowed uses depends on an area's resources and
local demands; for example, some lands are managed primarily for energy
production, some for the protection of specific threatened or endangered
species, and still others for recreation. On all its acres, however, the
BLM provides some essential services that protect the public, such as
wildfire management and law enforcement.

The BLM's flexibility and responsiveness come from the Federal Land
Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). This law gives the agency the
discretion to make decisions that satisfy a range of needs. Providing
direction to the BLM for more than a quarter of a century, FLPMA guides
the decisions that agency employees make every day. For example, as
population growth has raised public interest in uses such as recreation
and open space on BLM lands, FLPMA allows the agency to balance these
values with traditional uses such as livestock grazing. And the BLM
recognizes that achieving this means communicating with the public. By
working with local communities, the agency ensures that citizens can
influence management decisions near where they live and work.

What activities does the BLM manage on the public lands?

The BLM's activities fall into three broad categories: commercial
activities, recreation, and conservation.

Commercial Activities

Oil and gas, forage for livestock, and forest products are some of the
commodities that come from BLM's holdings. BLM lands account for 40
percent of national coal production, 11 percent of national gas
production, and 5 percent of oil production in the United States. These
lands are also important providers of renewable energy resources; 48
percent of the Nation's geothermal production and 15 percent of its
installed wind power capacity come from BLM lands. In addition, the
agency provides food and fiber to markets throughout the United States.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2003, the BLM managed more than 18,000 livestock
grazing permits or leases on 160 million acres of land and sold over $22
million in forest products. The BLM manages these activities under
multiple-use guidelines that allow a variety of uses to occur on the
public lands without necessarily designating a single use as supreme.


The public lands offer a wide range of recreational opportunities. For
those wishing to hunt, fish, or take part in other forms of outdoor
recreation, the BLM has more than 200,000 miles of fishable streams, 2.2
million acres of lakes and reservoirs, 14,000 miles of floatable rivers,
more than 500 boating access points, and 55 National Back Country
Byways. Recreational use of BLM lands has risen dramatically, from about
50 million visits in 1998 to almost 53 million visits in FY 2003. The
BLM works with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that visitors enjoy
high-quality recreational experiences on the public lands.


Besides providing recreation, BLM lands also serve as important areas
for conservation programs. Over the past decade, the number of plant and
animal species on BLM lands listed as threatened or endangered under the
Endangered Species Act has increased to 305. The BLM's restoration
initiatives are growing to meet this demand. In States with sagebrush
habitat, for example, the BLM is committed to conserving the greater
sage-grouse, a game bird whose numbers have been declining for the last
three decades. The agency is working with a variety of partners to carry
out on-the-ground projects that conserve habitat vital to the health of
sage-grouse and other species that depend on sagebrush for their
survival. BLM lands also hold greater numbers and kinds of fossils than
any other Federal or State agency's holdings. From some of the earliest
known creatures to inhabit North America to the dinosaurs, BLM lands
serve as a first-class laboratory for scientists from all over the
world. In addition, archaeological and historical treasures abound on
BLM land. American Indian sacred sites and cliff dwellings, pioneer
trails, and frontier ghost towns are just some of the resources that the
agency safeguards.

What else does the BLM do?

Wildfire Management

The BLM fights scores of wildfires each year, working to protect and
restore landscapes and communities. Under the National Fire Plan, which
guides BLM's and other agencies' efforts to respond to wildland fire,
the BLM and the other agencies ensure adequate preparedness for future
fire seasons, restore landscapes and rebuild communities damaged by
wildfire, invest in projects to reduce fire risk, work directly with
communities to ensure adequate protection, and maintain accountability
by establishing adequate oversight and monitoring.

Wild Horse and Burro Adoptions

The BLM provides a unique service to the public. Through the agency's
Wild Horse and Burro Program, qualified citizens can adopt a wild horse
or burro and give it a safe and healthy long-term home. Adoptions are
held several times a year, and interested members of the public can also
bid on the auctions through the Internet. Management of wild horses and
burros on the public rangelands is consistent with BLM's multiple-use

National Landscape Conservation System

The BLM manages some lands almost exclusively for conservation purposes.
The National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), for example, brings
some of the BLM's premier designations under a single organizational
unit. By putting these lands into an organized system, the BLM hopes to
increase public awareness of these areas' scientific, cultural,
educational, ecological, and other values. The NLCS consists of National
Conservation Areas, National Monuments, Wilderness Areas and Wilderness
Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Historic and Scenic

Public Land Records and Title Information

The BLM is responsible for the survey and title records of the public
domain, private land claims, and Indian lands. As the agency that
succeeded the General Land Office, the BLM maintains more than nine
million documents that provide an account of the settlement of the
United States. Any member of the public can easily find genealogical and
title information by using the BLM's Automated Records Web site
(www.glorecords.blm.gov <http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/> ).

How does the BLM determine which activities take place in a given area?

Every major land use decision that the agency makes is governed by a
well-defined planning process established under FLPMA. Land use planning
is one of the most important tools that the agency has, as it ensures
that the BLM manages the public lands consistently and in a way that
upholds the principle of multiple use. The planning process, moreover,
incorporates ample opportunity for public involvement. The BLM remains
committed to this process, investing a significant amount of its annual
budget and staff to planning.

What is the BLM's budget, and with whom does the agency work?

The BLM has an annual budget of about $1.8 billion. The agency leverages
its money by entering into partnerships with local communities, which
create ties with the people who live and work closest to BLM lands.

How can I learn more about the BLM?

For more information, go to the BLM's Web site: www.blm.gov
<http://www.blm.gov/> .

To obtain the name, address, and phone number of your local BLM office,
please check the BLM's Internet Home Page (www.blm.gov
<http://www.blm.gov/> ) or call 202-452-5125.

4,489 Posts
BLM's emerging philosophy . . . "Let's close it, that way we won't have to manage it." or "Just because the public can get there doesn't mean they belong there."
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