Below is a news release from the Bureau of Land Management. Nationwide, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the BLM completed 1,248 conservation and hunting heritage projects with a combined value of more than $190 million. These projects conserved or enhanced more than 2,259,000 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to more than 339,000 acres.
The Bureau of Land Management has opened a new internet-based portal to allow the public to more easily and efficiently nominate public lands that are currently inaccessible but could provide valuable opportunities for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.
The innovative new public nomination method will help efficiently gather the second round of suggestions under the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019, which requires federal agencies to ask for the public’s input on identifying lands where there is no legal public access or where access is significantly restricted, in order to help the agency create a list of parcels where access could be improved. In 2020, BLM received more than 6,000 responses.
“It is clear the American public is passionate about increasing access to public lands. People responded strongly when we asked for their help in identifying places to open,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “This new technology to gather nominations will help us organize what we anticipate will be an equally robust response in 2022.”
The BLM expects the use of web-based and geospatial technology to speed the pace of nominations, which will then undergo evaluation and potential selection for inclusion on a priority list sent to Congress. The report will outline options to access these lands through easements, rights-of-way, or sales from willing owners.
The new web-based geospatial portal is easy to use. Interested parties can read the directions on the site itself or watch a three-minute instructional video. The site opened for nominations on May 23, 2022 and will remain open to the public until June 30, 2022.
Under the Dingell Act’s criteria, lands nominated for inclusion on the BLM’s priority list must be managed by the BLM, encompass at least 640 contiguous acres, and have significantly restricted or no public access. The BLM must also consider the likelihood of resolving identified access issues when determining whether to include parcels on the list.
Valid suggestions must include the location of the nominated land or parcel, the total acreage of the nominated parcel, a description or narrative describing the lack of access, and any additional information the BLM should consider.
The BLM will not include any personally identifying information concerning owners or ownership of any parcels in preparing the priority list or related congressional reports.
Carrying out the requirements of the Dingell Act continues BLM’s mission to support multiple uses for public land, and to strike a balance for land and resources management, increase access for hunting, fishing, and recreation, and create economic prosperity while protecting and preserving America’s treasures.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)