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Press Release

Members Ask DOI to Extend Comment Period on Land Management Rule, Hear From Impacted Communities

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Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) led a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, asking her to extend the comment period on a proposed land management rule until the agency has time to hear from the communities most impacted by the decision. In part, the members wrote:

"We write to you regarding the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed rule, 'Conservation and Landscape Health,' published in the Federal Register on April 3, 2023. The administration’s proposal will have considerable implications, fundamentally changing the way the BLM carries out its multiple use and sustained yield mandate under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLMPA)...

"As evidenced by the House Committee on Natural Resources hearing you testified at on April 19, 2023, there is bipartisan concern about the implementation of this rule. We continue to hear from a wide range of stakeholders, including those who engage in grazing, recreation, energy development, mining, timber, and among others, on BLM lands. The proposed rule creates additional uncertainty among America’s businesses and rural economies. Each of these stakeholders, who have long standing relationships with the Department of the Interior and the BLM, deserve proper time to read the rule, consider its implications, and develop and submit thoughtful comments. An extension of the comment period would provide all stakeholders the opportunity to fully participate in this process.

"On May 3, 2023, exactly one month after the proposed rule was published, BLM announced only three in-person public meetings in Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. We are disappointed to see the lack of in-person stakeholder listening sessions, particularly in the West. The 12 Western states have 99 percent of the BLM land. The impact of this rule would fundamentally change the management of federal lands in each of these states. Those impacted deserve a chance to participate in a public meeting in-person, including those in rural communities who don’t have the ability to drive hundreds of miles across state lines to the closest listening session. We request additional in-person, public meetings to be held in each Western state with BLM lands. An extension of the comment period would provide the Department time to conduct more in-person listening sessions."

Read the full letter here.