BLM Land Use Plans
The Bureau of Land Management is required to develop, and periodically update, long-term management plans for the federal lands it oversees. These 15-to-20-year road maps are called resource management plans, or “RMPs." They guide how all federal resources in a region—including wildlife habitat, livestock grazing, recreational opportunities, and oil and gas development—are managed for the life of the plan.
We need your help. Please click on the Bighorn Basin, Wind River Basin, or Rock Springs area on the map below to learn how to participate in the Plan Revisions.
BLM Field Offices Map:
Lander Resource Management Plan (Wind River Basin):
Click Here to Participate in the Plan Revision
The public lands of the Bureau of Land Management’s Lander Field Office contain some of America’s finest wildlife habitats, intact historic trails, dramatic open spaces, and wildlands. An array of landforms give rise to salt deserts, sagebrush steppe, native grasslands, shrublands, juniper woodlands, as-pen stands, cottonwood and willow riparian corridors, and evergreen forests—nearly every habitat type found in Wyoming can be found in this field office.
The field office boundaries encompass 6.6 million acres, 2.7 million acres of which are public lands and minerals managed by the BLM. These lands include all of Fremont County, and parts of Natrona, Carbon, Sweetwater, and Hot Springs Counties. Rising up from the Lander Front to the west is the rugged and beautiful Wind River Range and the Owl Creek and Bridger Mountains can be seen in the to the northeast. The Sweetwater Watershed, in the southern portion of the field office, contains some of the last, best, intact sections of the Oregon, Mormon, California, and Pony Express National Historic Trails. In the northern most portion of the field office you will find one of our nation’s finest wildlife areas, the Dubois Valley.
In addition to historic, scenic, wildlife, and tourism and recreation, livestock grazing and minerals are also among the many resources managed by the Lander BLM.
The management of such a vast expanse of land and its many and varied resources is an enormous responsibility. An appropriate balance between use and protection of these resources is needed, and would help to ensure that current and future generations continue to benefit from this area. Such effective management cannot be achieved without careful and collaborative planning. Among other things, this means that meaningful public participation is vital.
Bighorn Basin Resource Management Plan: Under Revision
You have until July 20, 2011, to comment on the draft plan!
Click Here to dig in to the plan and comment online.
Click Here for tools to help you participate.
Bighorn Basin The BLM is at the early stages of revising its RMP for these field offices. The BLM is combining the Worland and Cody Field Offices for purposes of this RMP revision and pursuing a new land-use plan that will apply to the entire Bighorn Basin. The Lander Field Office is located in central Wyoming east of the Wind River Mountains. The Bighorn Basin occupies much of north-central Wyoming between Yellowstone National Park on the west and the Bighorn Mountains to the east. The Outdoor Council submitted extensive “scoping comments” to the BLM regarding both the Lander RMP revision and the Bighorn Basin revision and has met with BLM officials regarding these plasn. You can view related documents by clicking here. A priority in the Bighorn Basin RMP revision will be to achieve as much protection as possible for the Beartooth Front, an area we would like to see protected from oil and gas development. You can get more information about the Bighorn Basin RMP revision here.
The Jack Morrow Hills Area is located in the BLM’s Rock Springs Field Office. This is a 622,330-acre area located northern Sweetwater County, northeast of Rock Springs. The BLM engaged in the development of a “Coordinated Activity Plan” (CAP) for this area between 1998 and 2004. A CAP is essentially a mini-RMP that applies to a unique portion of a Field Office and not the Field Office as a whole. The Wyoming Outdoor Council was heavily involved in this RMP amendment (the CAP amended the Green River RMP), generating over 69,000 public comments on the draft environmental impact statement. This area contains a number of significant values including seven wilderness study areas and several areas of critical environmental concern. The BLM released its proposed CAP/RMP amendment in 2004 and the Wyoming Outdoor Council protested the proposed plan, seeking to improve the plan so as to better protect the special values in this area. The BLM decided this protest in 2006. You can view our comments on the environmental impact statement, our protest, and BLM’s decision on the protest by clicking here. BLM’s final plan established many significant protections for the resources in this area, such as designating a large portion of the area closed to future leasing, although the area is still threatened by potential oil and gas development. For that reason, we continue to monitor oil and gas development in this area closely and will oppose any significant development that could threaten the special values in this area. It is our view this area should be designated a National Conservation Area. You can view BLM’s environmental impact statement and plan for this area here.
The Buffalo Field Office manages BLM lands and the federal mineral estate in northeastern Wyoming in the region around Gillette. The BLM is currently engaged in two planning efforts in this field office. The first is an effort to amend the Buffalo RMP that would guide management in the Fortification Creek area in the face of heavy coalbed methane development. The BLM has released its draft environmental assessment for this amended plan; the Wyoming Outdoor Council submitted extensive comments on the proposal. You can view those comments here.
Fortification Creek is a heritage landscape because of its unique wildlands and because of an isolated herd of plains-dwelling elk that occupies the area.
We feel the amendments must ensure protection of these and other important resources. You can view the BLM’s Fortification Creek environmental assessment here.
The second effort, in its early stages, is a revision to the Buffalo RMP that would update sage-grouse conservation provisions in hopes of avoiding federal listing of the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. To read our comments, click here. You can get more information on this RMP revision here.
In the early 2000s, the BLM also amended an RMP that applied to the Buffalo and Casper Field Offices. In that process, referred to as the Powder River Basin Oil and Gas Project Environmental Impact Statement, the BLM approved drilling more than 50,000 coalbed methane wells in the Powder River Basin. The Wyoming Outdoor Council and other groups challenged this amendment in 2003.
The BLM completed this RMP revision for central Wyoming in 2007, adopting the new plan in December 2007. The Wyoming Outdoor Council submitted comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the revision, asking for greater environmental protection especially from oil and gas development. You can view related documents by clicking here. You can view the revised RMP here.
The final plan for the Bureau of Land Management’s Kemmerer Field Office was approved in May 2010. The area covered by the plan includes parts of Lincoln, Uinta, and Sweetwater counties in far western Wyoming.
The Wyoming Outdoor Council feels that the final plan could have been better regarding the large amount of acreage left open for oil and gas leasing (87% of the Field Office), and deficiencies in the air quality analysis. On the other hand, we are pleased with the designation of some significant special management areas. Noteworthy examples were the large areas of Rock Creek/Tunp and Bear River Divide that were designated with the objective of preserving their critical wildlife habitats and cultural values.
The Wyoming Outdoor Council participated in the Kemmerer planning process by submitting comments, feedback, and protest to the BLM. You can see these, as well as the final plan, by following the links below.
Upper Green River Valley The BLM has released its final RMP for the Pinedale Field Office, which encompasses lands in west-central Wyoming in the Upper Green River Valley and which has already seen industrial-scale development of natural gas. In spite of the vast oil patches already in production—the Jonah Field and the Pinedale Anticline—this plan is probably the most satisfactory of all recently revised RMPs in Wyoming. The RMP designates 48 percent, or 455,340 acres, of the field office unavailable for future oil and gas leasing. This includes the Wind River Front, a heritage landscape, and is much more land than any other Wyoming RMP would set aside from drilling. This favorable outcome may have resulted from the comments filed by the Outdoor Council, which asked the BLM director to modify the plan to better protect habitat and open spaces. You can view our input into this process here. You can see BLM’s environmental impact statement for this revision here.
The Upper Green River Valley is one of Wyoming’s most iconic landscapes. To learn more about the area, visit the Upper Green River Valley Coalition, where the Wyoming Outdoor Council is an active partner.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Rawlins Field Office completed its final plan in December 2008. The area covered by the plan encompasses much of southeastern and south-central Wyoming, including the eastern half of the Red Desert.
The plan contains some strong provisions, particularly in its protection of a number of special places. Among these are historic trails, recreation areas, and wildlife habitat management areas (Jep Canyon, Red Rim-Daley, Laramie Plains Lakes, and more). However, the Wyoming Outdoor Council is concerned that in opening 98% of the field office for oil and gas development, the plan is not protective enough of wildlife (including sage-grouse), air quality, or open spaces.
We participated in the Rawlins plan by submitting comments, feedback, and protest to the BLM. You can see these, as well as the final plan, by following the links below.
The resource management plan for the Newcastle field office was finalized in September of 2000.
A Note About the State’s Influence
An important mechanism for achieving greater environmental protection in a resource management plan is the governor’s “consistency review.” Under the BLM’s regulations, a governor is given the power to review a proposed resource management plan and object to it if it is inconsistent with state policy. Ultimately, the BLM must accept the governor’s recommendations if they “provide for a reasonable balance between the national interest and the state’s interest.” The Wyoming Outdoor Council has worked with Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s office to achieve greater environmental protections in the above RMPs by encouraging him to advance state interests in the process of consistency review, such as by attempting to ensure the BLM abides by the state’s executive order governing sage-grouse conservation.