BLM Provides Mitigation Guidance To Lessen and Offset Impact of Development on Public Lands
National Mitigation Policy Provides Roadmap for Approving Projects
WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today finalized itspolicyfor how to lessen and offset adverse environmental effects caused by various uses of the public lands. This announcement formalizes the agency’s knowledge developed through years of applying mitigation measures in the context of its multiple use and sustained yield mission.
The policy builds on and clarifies the BLM’s existing practices by clarifying how to carry out project mitigation, what role mitigation has in land use planning, and consideration of mitigation during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. It formalizes a 3-year old interim policy.
“America’s public lands offer rich opportunities for a wide variety of uses. Continuing the BLM’s use of mitigation helps us to take advantage of those opportunities while ensuring public resources are protected for future generations,” said Kristin Bail, BLM Assistant Director for Renewable Resources and Planning.
When the BLM authorizes the use of public lands, that use often has impacts on other resources. For impacts that cause damage to the public lands and their resources, the policy provides guidance to BLM regarding mitigation of such damage and will help the BLM to approve projects that may otherwise not be approved. For example, the BLM may require the public land user to avoid and minimize those impacts and, in some cases, compensate for residual damage. This is called mitigation. For example, a company may propose a project that cannot avoid or minimize damage to habitat. The company may compensate for that residual damage in the project area by improving similar habitat in another area of the public lands.
Land management and natural resource agencies at all levels of government have long used mitigation as a tool. Mitigation is an element of many permitting regimes. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act directs the BLM to manage the public lands for multiple use and sustained yield. The BLM fulfills this mission in many ways, including by working to improve the public lands on its own and by requiring mitigation as a condition of using the public lands. Formalizing the policy provides valuable clarity and guidance to the BLM that will allow it to inform public land users ahead of time as to what is needed for successful permitting.