The sun bursts through cottonwoods at the base of the canyon at Canyon de Chelly in Arizona.
Sunburst at Canyon de Chelly Arizona The rays of the sun peek through at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. © James Gordon Patterson/TNC Photo Contest 2021

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BLM Advances Guidance to Support Conservation on Public Lands

Move re-establishes mitigation tool for balancing conservation and use

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it would reinstate policies to help the agency balance the conservation of and use of the nation’s public lands.

In an Instructional Memorandum (M 2021-046) released earlier this week, the agency reinstated its mitigation manual and handbook, which together will provide clear guidance to state and field offices on how to use mitigation to meet statutory obligations. Mitigation is the practice of avoiding and minimizing the impacts of development and then offsetting those impacts with conservation actions elsewhere. This latest move reverses the previous administration’s approach to mitigation. In addition to allowing BLM to conserve and protect important public lands, mitigation also reduces project review times and costs for developers.

“BLM has ample authority to utilize mitigation to protect habitat and conserve our public lands,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Chief External Affairs Officer Lynn Scarlett. “Mitigation is a structured decision-making approach that gives the agency’s field staff the tools to advance BLM’s statutory mission of balancing conservation, economic, recreational and other land management goals.

"It also supports the administration’s twin goals of addressing the climate crisis and accelerating conservation of our lands, waters and ocean through the America the Beautiful initiative. Clear and consistent mitigation policies have long garnered support across the political spectrum and have fostered local solutions to landscape-use challenges. We commend the agency for advancing policies that will lead to positive outcomes for people and nature.” 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.