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    BLM proposes modernizing forest management rules

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    The Bureau of Land Management is proposing updates to regulations governing administration of timber sales and protest of forest management decisions, which haven’t been revised in more than 35 years.

    A spring flows from Oowah Lake.
    A spring flows from Oowah Lake in the La Sal Mountains. The Bureau of Land Management believes it’s time to update its timber management decisions. Photo by Doug McMurdo

    This proposal hopes to more effectively execute the bureau’s modern watershed and landscape-level land management planning and evaluation process, which will possibly enable BLM to make better decisions more quickly for the benefit of taxpayers and local communities, officials said in a press release.

    “Over 30 years ago, the BLM proposed a protest process to ‘expedite’ timber management decisions. Unfortunately, this process has had the opposite effect,” said Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor. “This proposal seeks to ensure timely action, including for thinning activities related to fire preparedness.”

    “The BLM’s forest management program contributes to sustained yields of timber to support local communities, while reducing fuel loads and the potential for catastrophic wildfires that can devastate forests and surrounding communities threatening lives,” said William Perry Pendley, BLM deputy director for policy and programs.

    The way BLM plans forest management projects and completes the environmental review of these projects has changed significantly since the 1980s, and these proposed changes are intended to improve the public’s ability to comment earlier in the process, when views and information have the greatest impact, rather than relying on protests after decisions have been made. Abuse of and litigation over protests has delayed the BLM’s efforts to implement active forest management, with both economic and public safety consequences, according to the BLM.

    The BLM is opening a public comment period on the proposed revisions, which closes 60 days after the proposal publishes in the Federal Register. The BLM will provide additional information about when and how to comment when the proposed rule is published.

    For more information on the BLM’s forest management activities, visit www.blm.gov/programs/natural-resources/forests-and-woodlands.

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