Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Editorial: BLM needs planning 3.0

When the Bureau of Land Management makes plans, it’s a big deal. 

The BLM manages 10 percent of the land in the U.S. and 30 percent of the minerals. In Oregon, the BLM manages 25 percent of the total land in the state. 

The BLM’s plans direct how that land can be used. And it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the BLM’s proposed “Planning 2.0” rule will mean less local control of decisions. 

There should be more local control, not less. The BLM says Planning 2.0 will fix many things that are wrong with its planning process. That may be. It also insists there will not be less local control.
“There are no changes to the status or role of cooperating agencies being considered as part of this draft rule,” Jim Lyons, a deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said in congressional testimony. 

That is what the BLM says. But consider a couple of changes under Planning 2.0. For one, the BLM seeks to manage at what it calls a landscape-planning level. In other words, it could make plans that cross traditional administrative boundaries, such as across states. 

There are undeniably good reasons for doing that. The borders between states don’t neatly line up with habitats or natural geographic regions. It could very well mean, though, that the BLM would be less focused on coordinating its plans with individual states. 

There also would seem to be a loss of local control under Planning 2.0 in the dilution of the role of state directors of the BLM by placing planning in control of a “deciding official.” Local field managers are replaced by a “responsible official.”

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