National Conservation and Recreation groups today unveiled innovative joint recommendations in support of sustainable recreation management practices across nearly 250 million acres of national public lands. Recognizing their shared values and commitment to the collaborative process, The Wilderness Society (TWS) and BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org (BRC) are encouraging and supporting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in its efforts to conduct and complete comprehensive travel and transportation management planning for all of its units.
The organizations believe that travel planning is a critical tool to promote high-quality, sustainable recreation for all public land users and to protect and conserve our shared public lands and their myriad uses and benefits for current and future generations. Some recent agency travel plans, generated by both BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, have been subject to criticism and found lacking by the courts.
The TWS/BRC recommendations encourage BLM to prioritize travel and transportation management planning and to work collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure transparency and identify positive outcomes, while complying with governing laws and policies.
Phil Hanceford, Assistant Director of the TWS BLM Action Center, states, “This effort reflects a new focus on collaboration between diverse interest groups that have many shared values when it comes to use and enjoyment of federal lands.”
Recognizing that compliance with the “minimization criteria” articulated in Executive Order 11644 has been a significant stumbling block in some travel management decisions, the groups have identified a number of management concepts that they contend will aid BLM in complying with the law while fulfilling its mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Don Amador, Western Representative for the BRC, states, “Having worked across the aisle with conservation groups in California for the last decade on recreation issues, I am proud of this effort at the national level to try and find common ground in support of managed recreation on public lands. Finding common ground and respecting shared values is far better than hashing out those differences in the court room.”
An Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) report states that outdoor recreation is big business in this country, to the tune of: 6.1 million direct American jobs, $646 billion in direct consumer spending each year, $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue, $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue.
The TWS/BRC recommendations come as key positions at BLM are still being filled with the incoming Administration. The groups hope their recommendations will be noticed as new leadership works alongside career BLM employees who have been updating BLM guidance in preparation for this important round of BLM travel and transportation planning.