Farm Progress America, April 26, 2024

Mike Pearson takes a look at two new rules coming out of the Department of Interior regarding land use.

April 26, 2024

Mike Pearson tells listeners about new rules from the U.S. Department of Interior regarding land owned or watched over by the USA.

The federal government either owns or provides insight of the country's total acreage. And last week, the federal department of interior announced a massive rule change in how it's managed.

April 18, the federal department of interior announced a new rule. A rule that is causing a robust debate across the country. The BLM is tasked with providing oversight of 245 million acres-- more land than any other government agency. And their mission defined in 1976, is to manage that land for multiple uses while conserving it's natural, historical and cultural resources.

Typically, the BLM ways the interests of livestock grazing producers, oil and gas drilling mining and other uses like hiking and tourism against the local environment or cultural area. And leases public land directly for those uses.

But under this new rule, the BLM issues two new kinds of leases. They are called a restoration or a mitigation lease and experts are unsure how these will impact users of public land.

The restoration lease will be available on parcels that the BLM will identify as environmentally degraded. The agency will work with the lessee to restore the habitat. They see these leases going to nonprofit organizations or conservation districts who will develop a plan with a scope for remediation and complete the work with BLM oversight.

Mitigation leases will function similarly with a focus on environmental rehabilitation but the could be required of users of federal lands who usage damages some or all of that value.

According to the BLM, the rule is designed to balance conservation with other activities like energy development and mining and grazing but not everyone see it that way.

The Public Lands Council which advocates for livestock grazers on public land, says, "The conservation and landscape will help prioritize a single use: Conservation and the expense of others."

This shift could interrupt the ecological and economic benefits provided by livestock grazing.

The new rule will be a big change for federal land users but also probably headed for court.

Several lawsuits are expected and legislature pushback is underway in Congress.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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