“Planning 2.0” at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
by Scott Greenler
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun a process to redesign much of its approach to land management planning in order to become a more effective agency overall. While still in early stages of discussion and development, BLM staff are referring to it as “Planning 2.0.”
The BLM is traditionally structured according to jurisdictional boundaries, and resource management planning usually takes place accordingly. This sometimes has led to problems or inefficiencies when dealing with issues that apply to the actual land being managed—the over-all landscape or ecosystem.
One of the major ideas proposed in Planning 2.0 is the shift of management to a landscape scale, defined by specific ecoregions. This allows the offices of the BLM to focus more specifically on the needs of a broad-scale area, which is likely to have similar needs, instead of arbitrarily dividing up land and habitat based on a state line, a line of longitude, or a river for example.
The thinking is that the ecosystem and landscape on either side of the river are likely to require similar attention, and the BLM will be more effective if it is able to manage two compatible pieces of land in the same area, compared to two artificially separate and non-compatible pieces of land.
A landscape-level approach to resource management is not a new concept and, in the interest of working towards this type of management, the BLM has begun work on many initiatives, including Rapid Ecoregional Assessments, Regional Mitigation Strategies, and the Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) Strategy.
Rapid Ecoregional Assesments (REAs) look at existing data specific to a particular region, and attempts to put together a picture of the landscape that is to be managed. Some of the critical areas included in an REA are:
- Documentation of key resource values, or conservation elements, especially with focus on regionally-significant habitats and species.
- Description of environmental change agents: climate change, wildfire, invasive species, and development;
- Data trend analysis and projection
- Identification and mapping of the best opportunities for resource conservation, restoration, and development
- Identification of gaps in scientific knowledge and data needs
- Establish a baseline for evaluation and guidance in future management actions.
This picture provided by the REA can then be used to help establish the most effective Regional Mitigation Strategy. Mitigation is the process of making the least possible impact of any project in public lands, and making reparations for any unavoidable impacts. Previously, mitigation was done as close to the project site as possible. With this new approach, the BLM is looking at how mitigation can make the most difference in the landscape, not the closest difference. (For more information, see our blog about a Department of Interior-wide effort to write new, more effective mitigation policy.)
The AIM Strategy will go above and beyond the information gathered in the REAs and collect valuable new information that can be used to help responsibly manage these newly recognized ecoregions. The expectation is that Planning 2.0 could further unify these initiatives, make landscape-level planning the norm, be the focus of new and strong mitigation policy, and result in better on-the-ground conservation.
Looking to get involved? The BLM will hold two public listening sessions on its Planning 2.0 initiative.
1) Denver, CO: October 1, 2014, 1 to 5pm, MDT, Denver Marriott West, 1717 Denver West Boulevard, Golden, CO 80401. The Denver meeting will have a livestream option for people to participate remotely. The meeting can be accessed at www.blm.gov/live/
2) Sacramento, CA: October 7, 2014. 1 to 5pm, PST, Double Tree by Hilton, Sacramento, 2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815.
For more information visit the BLM Planning 2.0 website.
The Conservation Lands Foundation is pleased to have Scott Greenler interning with us in the Durango, CO office this semester. Scott is a junior at Fort Lewis College majoring in environmental and organismic biology. In addition to classes in botany, ecology, and wildlife management, he is helping CLF evaluate Bureau of Land Managment policy documents, write blogs and—we hope—explore some of the National Conservation Lands in our area. This is his first post.