A new rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management could cut years off of lengthy land use planning debate. The agency said “Planning 2.0” would streamline procedures that have taken up to eight years in the past.
A major component of the initiative includes more opportunities for early public involvement, rather than later on when the agency has already spent years working on a plan.
The BLM said one of its primary goals of the proposed planning rule is to improve the agency’s ability to respond to environmental, economic and social changes in a timely manner. Right now, regulations are guided by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and many believe an update was overdue.
National Wildlife Federation spokesperson Mike Leahy said he is excited to see the changes, especially those that will give the public the chance to get involved during initial negotiations.
“The public planning process is so important,” said Leahy. “It’s the best place for the public to get involved, for communities to get involved, for different interest groups to hash out their differences and come up with a good plan for managing public lands and public resources.”
But the timing of the rule has drawn some criticism, calling it a midnight regulation from the Obama Administration. Senator John Barrasso said the rule will take authority away from local land managers, but he expects the new Congress and President-elect Trump to reverse it.