March 27, 2017, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, issued a Memorandum to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) directing him to streamline the land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes. “I hereby direct BLM, in accordance with its multiple-use mission, to immediately begin a focused effort to identify and implement results-oriented improvements to its land use planning and NEPA processes.”
The current BLM land use planning and implementation procedures take an excessive amount of time and money to carry out. The decision-making process is not responsive to the needs on the ground, and local field offices are stymied as they wait for direction from Washington D.C. on common management issues. The request for better ideas is a welcomed reprieve. However, the message Secretary Zinke needs to hear is that he does not need to re-invent the wheel. Rather, he simply needs to enforce a provision of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) enacted in 1976 that has yet to be carried out; Coordination with States and local governments.
Section 202(c)(9) of FLPMA require coordination with States and local governments. The purpose of this provision is to ensure effective inventory actions, planning and management activities in coordination with State and local authorities. Carrying out this provision of the law would accomplish the Secretaries priorities for improving the planning process, which are: (1) reducing planning time, (2) reducing costs, (3) and more responsive to local needs.
Several Counties are making that request.
A handful of Counties in the West were invited to participate in a series of weekly conference calls with the BLM to offer ideas on how the planning and NEPA processes could be improved. In addition to the call to Counties, members of the public have also been asked to submit ideas by July 24, 2017. The BLM will be compiling the collected ideas and making a recommendation to the Acting Director that will be submitted to the Secretary in September.
Garfield County, Colorado, as well as several other Western Counties, are submitting a letter asking the Secretary to be the first to implement the coordination provision as intended by Congress. Attached to the letter is a legal analysis of the FLPMA coordination provision titled, “Coordination and Plan Consistency Review Under the FLPMA Section 202(c)(9),” prepared by Norman James, Director Fennemore Craig, P.C.
Other Counties, Special District, States and producers who agree with this position are encouraged to make a similar request, and can do so by attaching the Counties letter or referring to it with your comments. Here are the documents you can use to make your recommendation:
To access the Streamlining BLM website, click the following link: