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BLM Releases Final Public Lands Rule

BLM Releases Final Public Lands Rule

Rule uplifts conservation and landscape health

Mountain biking on rugged, rocky BLM Lands in the southwest, a mountain biker rolls down some boulders in blue shorts, knee pads, and a black t-shirt.

On Thursday, April 18, 2024, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the final version of its Public Lands: Conservation and Landscape Health Rule. The new Conservation and Landscape Health Rule will guide public lands management strategies creating a greater focus on balancing multiple land uses into the future. The new rule recognizes conservation as an essential component of public lands management, and puts it on equal footing with the other managed uses of America’s public lands.

The BLM already had regulations related to oil and gas, grazing, and timber, but until this rule, the BLM didn’t have regulations addressing the conservation side of its work. “That’s what this rule does: it puts conservation on equal footing with the rest of our uses and answers a new universal desire shared by Americans to conserve and restore our land.” -Sharmila Jepsen, BLM Fish Biologist

Last spring, the BLM received over 216,000 comments during the 90-day comment period, the longest comment period in recent BLM history. Nearly one thousand mountain bike advocates were among the voices heard from industry groups, conservation organizations, indigenous nations, and state and local governments. Although we might not feel the impacts immediately as the BLM begins weaving the rule into its internal protocols and strategies, we should be prepared for changes to how we interact with land management policies (including NEPA), processes, and professionals. 

IMBA’s policy team is passionate about the role sustainable trail development plays in protecting and conserving America’s public lands. Sustainable trail planning, development, and management are tools that we leverage to protect and conserve the future of outdoor recreation. “Trail development and trail stewardship are conservation tools. Simply put, trails mitigate the impacts of unplanned recreation.” -Aaron Clark, IMBA Government Affairs, Policy Manager

And we are proud of our engagement and participation in the process of crafting a rule that balances conservation, outdoor recreation, and the other land uses on America’s public lands. 

“The International Mountain Bicycling Association commends the Bureau of Land Management, its leadership and staff, for the effort in creating the new Public Lands Rule. The rule itself is significant forward progress as it seeks to balance use on America’s public lands by prioritizing ecosystem health and restoration efforts. We are encouraged that the BLM has improved and clarified language regarding restoration/mitigation leases, and areas of critical environmental concern as it considers how outdoor recreation plays a role on our federal landscapes. The mountain bike community looks forward to working with the BLM and focusing on how outdoor recreation dovetails with the implementation of the new rule.” -Todd Keller, IMBA’s Director of Government Affairs

What’s next? IMBA Government Affairs will spend time analyzing the rule and plans to host a webinar later this summer to dig into details on the Public Lands Rule, what it means for mountain bikers and advocates, and how to engage with the rule for trails in your area. 

IMBA sends a huge thank you to advocates and leaders who contributed comments and uplifted the voice of mountain bikers in the rulemaking process. Your contributions helped shape the Public Lands Rule, and supported strategic balance between conservation and outdoor recreation.

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Kate Noelke, IMBA's Communications & Advocacy Specialist

Kate grew up on the backwaters of the Mississippi River biking, paddling, and wandering through the beauty of the Driftless Region of SW Wisconsin. She loves to make and share food she's grown or foraged, and believes all bodies belong on bikes (and wandering trails via whichever mode of…

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