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Overview:
Located within the US Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing the United States’ public lands. BLM oversees the use and conservation of 258 million acres, most of which is located in the American West and Alaska. A key responsibility of BLM is the issuance of leases to corporate interests to extract oil, natural gas and minerals from beneath public lands. This natural resource development, in effect since the 19th century, has left wide areas of American wilderness damaged by the effects of drilling and mining and provoked protests from environmental groups opposed to future oil, gas and mining activities in sensitive areas.
 
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History:
 
Shortly after the US gained independence from England, the US Congress approved the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These laws provided for the survey and settlement of new lands that helped form the American Midwest. As additional lands were acquired from Spain, France and other countries, government officials explored and surveyed the new territories, primarily to encourage settlement.
 
In 1812, Congress established the General Land Office in the Department of the Treasury to oversee new federal lands. Congress encouraged settlement across the West by enacting a wide variety of laws, including the Homestead Laws and the Mining Law of 1872. The latter proved costly and controversial as the Mining Law allowed mining companies to reap huge profits from minerals and precious metals while having to pay the federal government little or no money. Over the next 100 years, hundreds of surface and subterranean mines opened across federal lands, leaving behind a scarred, environmentally-contaminated legacy.
 
During the late 19th Century, the federal government began seeing federal lands as something more than just a source for mining and homesteads. People like President Teddy Roosevelt began advocating for the creation of national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. But even with this shift in perspective on the value of federal lands, the government continued to allow mining companies to explore and extract valuable natural resources. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 allowed leasing, exploration and production to take place on public lands to gather commodities such as coal, oil, gas and sodium. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the US Grazing Service to manage the public rangelands, and other legislation allowed timber companies to harvest timberlands in the Pacific Northwest.
 

Following World War II, the federal government decided a new authority was needed to better manage public lands. In 1946, the Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within the Department of the Interior. At that time there were more than 2,000 laws for managing public lands, and BLM was left with no unified legislative mandate until Congress enacted the

Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA)

(PDF). While the passage of FLPMA reaffirmed the importance of public ownership of federal lands, the act also established the term “multiple-use” management, which meant public lands would continue to be used for their economic benefits as well as valued for their intrinsic natural beauty.

more
What it Does:

 

Part of the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing the United States’ public lands. BLM carries out a variety of programs (PDF) for the management and conservation of resources on 258 million surface acres, as well as 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate, most of which is located in the American West and Alaska. These public lands make up approximately 13% of the total land surface of the US and more than 40% of all land managed by the federal government.
 
Public lands are characterized by grassland, forest, high mountain, arctic tundra and desert landscape ecosystems. The BLM manages the extraction of natural resources from public lands including oil, natural gas, minerals and timber. The bureau also administers mineral leasing and oversees mineral operations on federal mineral estate that underlies other state, private or federally-administered land, and it manages most mineral operations on Native American lands. The bureau administers more than 18,000 grazing permits and leases and manages rangelands and facilities for 57,000 wild horses and burros plus 117,000 miles of fisheries habitats. There are also numerous archaeological, paleontological and historical sites on public lands that BLM oversees.
 
BLM runs soil and watershed management programs on 175 million acres in the lower 48 states and 86 million acres in Alaska. Practices such as revegetation, protective fencing and water development are maintained to preserve the health of public lands. This goal includes fire protection programs as well.
 
Revenues generated from public lands make BLM a key revenue-generating agency for the federal government. In 2007, BLM’s onshore mineral leasing activities generated an estimated $4.5 billion in receipts from royalties, bonuses and rentals collected by the Minerals Management Service. However this agency has been criticized for not collecting as much money from oil and mining companies as it should (see Minerals Management Service). Approximately half of these revenues were returned to the states where the mineral leasing occurred. Other revenues that BLM lands generate come from logging by timber companies. Timber receipts (including salvage) totaled $55.4 million in FY 2007, up from $13.5 million in FY 2005. 
 
BLM Main Programs
Energy reviews and approves permits and licenses from companies to explore, develop and produce oil and gas and geothermal resources on both federal and Native American lands and takes care of mining and minerals efforts. This division also inspects oil, gas and geothermal wells and other development operations to ensure that lessees and operators comply with the lease requirements and BLM regulations. Although the Bureau of Indian Affairs issues leases on reservation lands, BLM handles the operational approvals and supervision of operations on these lands.
 
The Fire and Aviation Directorate (FAD) is headquartered at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, where it works with seven other federal agencies to manage wild fires in the US. FAD has three organizational levels: 1) the national office develops policies, procedures and budgets for the fire and aviation program; 2) state offices coordinate policies and interagency activities within their state; and 3) field offices implement on-the-ground fire management and aviation activities that involve other government agencies.
 
Grazing oversees 160 million acres authorized for livestock grazing. The goal of the rangeland management program is to create “sustainable, working landscapes that are economically sound and ecologically healthy.” This directorate also is in charge of a set of regulatory changes aimed at improving BLM’s management of public grazing lands as part of a Grazing Final Environmental Impact Statement. The proposed regulations are intended to “improve BLM’s working relationships with public land ranchers, conserve rangeland resources and address legal issues while enhancing administrative efficiency.”
 
Planning undertakes land use planning while working with local, state and tribal governments, the public and economic stakeholders. This directorate oversees land use plans, called Resource Management Plans, which guide all actions on federal public lands. In 2001, BLM began evaluating and changing existing land use plans (many of which were more than 20 years old) in response to changing conditions and demands on public lands.  This included the preparation of new plans for designated units of the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). According to BLM, the bureau has completed 41 Resource Management Plans or amendments, with 50 more planning efforts in various stages of completion. BLM expects to complete more than 40 additional amendments, revisions and new plans in the next two years. 
 
Recreation manages the use of public lands for recreational activities, including camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, boating, whitewater rafting, hang gliding, off-highway vehicle driving, mountain biking, bird and wildlife viewing, photography, climbing, winter sports, and visiting natural and cultural heritage sites. The recreation office maintains a network of roads, trails and Scenic Byways for use by visitors. More than 22 million people live within 25 miles of BLM lands, and two-thirds of these lands are within 50 miles of an urban area, making them a popular destination for American vacationers. Visits to recreation sites on BLM lands totaled 55 million in 2006.
 
Smaller BLM programs
Abandoned Mine Lands program enhances public safety and improves water quality by reducing or eliminating the effects of past hardrock mining in the western United States. The program maintains an inventory of known abandoned mine lands on public lands. As of April 9, 2008, the inventory contained 12,204 sites and 49,376 features. Only 20% of the sites have either been remediated, have reclamation actions planned or underway, or do not require further action. The remaining 80% require further investigation and/or remediation.
 
National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) contains some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes. It includes more than 850 federally recognized areas and approximately 27 million acres of National Conservation Areas, National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Historic and Scenic Trails. The NLCS also safeguards Native American cliff dwellings and cultural sites and preserves the remaining traces of historic trails and pathways. One of the most important areas NLCS oversees is the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument.
 
National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a vast 23-million acre area on Alaska’s North Slope that has a history of nearly 100 years of petroleum exploration. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding set aside the 23 million acres as an emergency oil supply for the US Navy. In 1976, in accordance with the Naval Petroleum Reserve Production Act, the administration of the reserve was transferred to BLM and was renamed the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. BLM has held four lease sales in the reserve (Northeast - 1999 and 2002 and Northwest - 2004 and 2006) and currently administers more than 300 federal oil and gas leases. 
 
Natural and Cultural Heritage manages long-abandoned archaeological sites and historic landscapes. Public lands in the West and Alaska offer some of the world’s best outdoor laboratories for studying the fossilized remains of plant and animal life.
 
Cadastral Surveys create, mark, define, retrace or reestablish the boundaries and subdivisions of public lands. Cadastral surveys are the foundation upon which titles to all land that is now, or was once, part of the public domain rest.
 
National Integrated Lands System (NILS) is a joint project between BLM and the USDA Forest Service in partnership with states, counties and private industry to provide business solutions for the management of cadastral records and land parcel information in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment. NILS collects, maintains and stores parcel-based land and survey information.
 
Law Enforcement employs 180 uniformed BLM Rangers and 96 BLM Agents stationed in the western United States whose work includes investigating destruction and theft of cultural and paleontological resources; marijuana cultivation; off-highway vehicle issues; oil and gas issues, including spills or theft; effects of illegal immigration and smuggling on public lands; illegal dumping; wildfires; wild horse and burro killings and theft; livestock trespass; forest, cactus, and rock thefts; and guiding, outfitting, and subsistence hunting issues.
 
Other smaller BLM programs include:
-        Budget Information
-        Bureau's IT Architecture
-        Filming on Public Lands
-        Forests and Woodlands
-        Historic Bottles
-        Noxious Weeds
-        BLM Partnerships
-        Rights-of-Way

-        USGS-BLM Science Partnership

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Where Does the Money Go:
 
BLM’s most important stakeholders are oil, natural gas and mining interests. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 5.6 million acres of US public land. After an examination of mining claims on public lands, EWG launched Who Owns the West, a web site where the public can find information on mining operations on lands managed by BLM.
 
Some key statistics compiled by EWG are as follows:
-        Total number of claim-holders: 28,408
-        Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 5,569,929 (2.5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park)
-        Dollars paid for each acre: as little as $0.84
-        Reimbursement to the federal government for gold, silver and other precious metals taken from public land: $0
-        Companies owning minerals on at least 10,000 public acres: 190
-        Percentage of claims held by foreign companies: 21%
-        Profits accrued in 2002 among top corporate claim-holders: $4 billion
 
Of the top 10 claim owners (by acreage), six are foreign companies:
Claim Owner
# Claims
Acreage
Newmont Mining Corp (Denver, CO)
17,643
347,458
Placer Dome Inc (Canada)       
13,766
268,758
Rio Tinto Limited (Australia)     
10,097
191,928
Barrick Gold Corporation (Canada)       
5,768
125,956
7,105
124,297
Kinross (Canada)
4,306
98,853
Cameco Corp (Canada)            
3,209
66,204
3,187
61,801
Dr Gordon Reynolds (Price, UT)
300
48,000
Carl Pescio (Elko, NV)
2,277
46,996
 
EWG also provides information about oil and gas leases on BLM lands. According to Who Owns the West? Oil and Gas Leases, the federal government since 1982 has leased or offered 229 million acres of public and private land in 12 western states for oil and gas drilling—an area larger than the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona combined. There are 8,604 companies and individuals in possession of 44,690 active oil and gas leases encompassing 34.9 million acres of land.
 
The top 10 oil and gas lease holders are:
Lease Holder
# Leases
Acreage
Yates Petroleum Corp (Artesia, NM)
4,098
3,584,742
1,464
1,359,351
Tom Brown Inc (Denver, CO)
1,365
1,150,518
Devon Energy Corporation (Oklahoma City)      
1,528
1,054,235
Westport Oil & Gas Co LP (Denver)    
1,199
1,022,347
Burlington Resources (Fort Worth)        
1,223
914,375
ConocoPhillips (Houston)          
976
811,131
Questar Corporation (Salt Lake City)     
1,102
768,804
Exxon Mobil (Irving, TX)
1,175
734,004
Anadarko Petroleum Corp (The Woodlands, TX)
931
732,058
 

Information on mining claims, oil and gas leases and other business is provided by BLM through its

Legacy Rehost System

(LR2000). This database, however, is complicated and not user-friendly when trying to run reports that detail company activity on BLM lands. Users of the system must have the Internet Explorer browser to access LR2000.

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Controversies:

 

California Desert Left Out of Protection Status
In March 2008 environmental activists were outraged by a BLM decision to exclude large tracts of California desert from federal protection. In question was more than half of the 10.6 million-acre California Desert Conservation Area that stretches from the Mexican border to Mono Lake.
 
The controversy stemmed from BLM’s reading of a proposed Congressional plan to permanently protect 26 million acres of beautiful and historic landscapes in the American West. Because the California desert area doesn’t contain “national” in its title, the conservation area didn’t qualify for protection, according to BLM attorneys.
 
But environmental groups and some BLM employees claimed that the semantics hid the political motives of utility companies that want to build hundreds of miles of electrical transmission corridors through California’s deserts. Also, off-road vehicle enthusiasts opposed further regulation of the area.
 
Supporters of the California desert want the area to be included in the National Landscape Conservation Act, which would unify the management and funding for areas such as the original Pony Express National Historic Trail, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, a million acres of Alaskan caribou calving grounds, 38 wild rivers, Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and a tiny ghost town near the Mexican border.
 
Democratic Senators Oppose BLM Utah Plans
In April 2008 a group of US Democratic senators appealed to BLM to reconsider management plans that threatened thousands of acres of pristine wilderness. The bureau was developing six Resource Management Plans and travel plans for 11 million acres of public land in the Colorado Plateau region of southern Utah.
 
According to Senators Dick Durban (D-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), the area consists of approximately three million acres of roadless land possessing “wilderness character.” But BLM in its draft plans offered “virtually no protection” for the three million acres, leaving them subject to off-road vehicles and oil, gas, and hardrock mineral development.
 
The senators urged BLM to consider alternative management of the territory to protect it “from the scars of off-road vehicle routes and energy development.”
 
Leasing Protests
In 2004 the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance celebrated BLM’s decision to not offer two highly controversial oil and gas leases just outside of Hovenweep National Monument in southeastern Utah. The environment groups opposed the leases because the public lands in-and-around Hovenweep are considered important cultural sites because of ancient cliff dwellings and kivas.
 
The Hovenweep leasing controversy followed a decision by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) which ruled in favor of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and NRDC in overturning a 2002 BLM decision to lease approximately 9,500 acres of public lands for oil and gas development. Of the seven parcels contested by the conservation groups, four were located east of Zion National Park and three were located near Bear Lake in northeastern Utah.

BLM Backs Off Oil & Gas Leasing Near Hovenweep National Monument (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance)

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Comments

msandrea nicole Smith 1 year ago
hi just wondering if this company that i'm looking to invest into is legit WesState oil also looking for a small company that is under $500.00 please contact me a76542nicole@yahoo.com New Orleans La Native
Faqm Mall 1 year ago
Can not believe you are using the word management to ok the slaughter of horses!! Seems our government is hell bent on ridding the west of the last icon of freedom. But what else to expect from the same government that used other fancy wording to round up and slaughter the Native Americans. I am certain industrial ranchers need tha land for cheap grazing and the whores in Washington are more than glad to abide...
Nancy Huff 1 year ago
bob abbey, after watching the pathetic roundup of horses, burros and whatever else the nation witnessed on the tube tonight, i felt literally sick at my stomach to know we have people like you sitting at a furnished desk with a chair in a/c to sit and authorize such disgusting behavior. where do you find justification in forking those animals with the landing blades of a helicopter in their anuses and rolling them causing whatever physical damage you feel is justified to herd those...
Bob and Kim Chmel 1 year ago
dear mr. abbey, director of the blm, it is very disturbing that the blm has planned a roundup of wild burros in the cibola-trigo and chocolate-mule areas next week (june 4th). in 100-degree plus temperatures in these areas, it is absolutely inhumane to subject these animals to helicopter roundups of this type, which in themselves are incredibly inhumane. we are appalled and saddened that once again our government is pursuing an assault on the animals that live on "our" public l...
Mary Kaye Black 2 years ago
how can i make sure the blm land in az. is used for more grazing? i also bike. i would like to find out how organizations like the coalition of az. bicyclists can work with blm to improve trails for mountain biking?
David Alvarez 3 years ago
I want to order the latest version of the "Manual of Surveying Instructions". I think the latest version is now for the year 2009.
William Ruckman 4 years ago
How can I obtain information on where to go to tinker around with a gold pan, portable sluice box, or metal detector without getting onto someone else s claim in Siskiyou County? I was told you have information on existing and abandoned claims. Also, do you have a website with mineral and gem locations in the county? I live in Yreka, CA and would like to look in places west of here. Sincerely, William Ruckman williamruckman@hotmail.com

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Founded: 1946
Annual Budget: $996.4 million
Employees: 11,352
Bureau of Land Management
Abbey, Bob
Director

Confirmed on August 6, 2009, President Obama’s Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a twenty-five year veteran of the agency who was put forward for the position by Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the powerful Senate Majority Leader. Although his nomination was stalled by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was pressuring the administration to support a controversial copper mine proposed for a national forest in his state, McCain eventually relented. 

 
Born circa 1951 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Abbey is a 1969 graduate of Clarksdale High School. He went on to earn a B.S. in Resource Management from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1973.  
 
Abbey spent more than 32 years in public service, working with state and federal land management agencies before retiring from the federal government in July 2005. Straight out of college, Abbey took a job with the Mississippi State Park system, where he worked for more than four years before accepting a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In that job, he first interacted with the BLM, to which he soon applied for a job. Abbey was hired by BLM in 1980 for a position in its Casper, Wyoming, field office. Between 1980 and 1992, Abbey worked there, moving on to positions as assistant district manager in Yuma, Arizona and as budget analyst in Washington, D.C. In 1992, Abbey was promoted to head of the Jackson, Mississippi, field office, where he remained into 1995, when he was named acting state BLM director in Colorado, where he served from 1995 through 1997. From 1997 to 2005, Abbey served as the Nevada State Director for BLM, providing oversight for 48 million acres of public land managed by the bureau in the state. He oversaw a staff of 750 employees and managed an annual budget of $51 million. While in Nevada, Abbey was the principal BLM proponent for the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, a plan to restore North America’s largest desert to its original state by removing invasive plant species and making other changes. One anti-environmental stain on Abbey’s record, which no one raised during his confirmation process, was a federal administrative law judge ruling that Abbey had, in October 2004, illegally dismissed a manager overseeing the cleanup of an abandoned copper mine for pursuing worker safety, radiation, and air and water pollution violations.   The decision was affirmed on appeal.
 
Abbey retired in July 2005, after which he became a partner in a private consulting firm called Abbey, Stubbs, & Ford, LLC, which had offices in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. He also served as a member of the University of Nevada College of Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Committee and as a board member on several statewide and national non-profit organizations, including Friends of Nevada Wilderness. His post-retirement criticism of the environmental damage caused by off-road vehicles stirred the ire of some who advocate such activities on public land.
 
Abbey and his wife Linda have been married for 32 years and currently reside in Reno, Nevada. They have one daughter, Leigh.
 
Nothing Positive in Mining Bill (op-ed by Bob Abbey)
Nevada BLM Cleans Out Cleanup Project Manager (by Laura Paskus, High Country News)
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Caswell, Jim
Previos Director

im Caswell served as director of the Bureau of Land Management from August 2007 until the end of the administration of George W. Bush. A Vietnam War veteran, Caswell is a 1967 graduate of Michigan State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry.

 
He spent 33 years in various positions with the Bureau of Land Management, Bonneville Power Administration and the US Forest Service. For 16 of those years, he served as forest supervisor on the Clearwater and Targhee National Forests. Caswell was also deputy forest supervisor at Boise National Forest and acting deputy regional forester in Missoula, Montana.
 
Then Caswell headed Idaho’s state Office of Species Conservation under Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID). In charge of endangered species issues and management, the office won the state legislature’s approval in 2001 for controversial issues involving wolf management and grizzly bears in Yellowstone.
 
In taking over BLM, Caswell worked again for Kempthorne, who was the head of the Interior Department.
 
 
 
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Bookmark and Share
Overview:
Located within the US Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing the United States’ public lands. BLM oversees the use and conservation of 258 million acres, most of which is located in the American West and Alaska. A key responsibility of BLM is the issuance of leases to corporate interests to extract oil, natural gas and minerals from beneath public lands. This natural resource development, in effect since the 19th century, has left wide areas of American wilderness damaged by the effects of drilling and mining and provoked protests from environmental groups opposed to future oil, gas and mining activities in sensitive areas.
 
more
History:
 
Shortly after the US gained independence from England, the US Congress approved the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These laws provided for the survey and settlement of new lands that helped form the American Midwest. As additional lands were acquired from Spain, France and other countries, government officials explored and surveyed the new territories, primarily to encourage settlement.
 
In 1812, Congress established the General Land Office in the Department of the Treasury to oversee new federal lands. Congress encouraged settlement across the West by enacting a wide variety of laws, including the Homestead Laws and the Mining Law of 1872. The latter proved costly and controversial as the Mining Law allowed mining companies to reap huge profits from minerals and precious metals while having to pay the federal government little or no money. Over the next 100 years, hundreds of surface and subterranean mines opened across federal lands, leaving behind a scarred, environmentally-contaminated legacy.
 
During the late 19th Century, the federal government began seeing federal lands as something more than just a source for mining and homesteads. People like President Teddy Roosevelt began advocating for the creation of national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. But even with this shift in perspective on the value of federal lands, the government continued to allow mining companies to explore and extract valuable natural resources. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 allowed leasing, exploration and production to take place on public lands to gather commodities such as coal, oil, gas and sodium. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the US Grazing Service to manage the public rangelands, and other legislation allowed timber companies to harvest timberlands in the Pacific Northwest.
 

Following World War II, the federal government decided a new authority was needed to better manage public lands. In 1946, the Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within the Department of the Interior. At that time there were more than 2,000 laws for managing public lands, and BLM was left with no unified legislative mandate until Congress enacted the

Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA)

(PDF). While the passage of FLPMA reaffirmed the importance of public ownership of federal lands, the act also established the term “multiple-use” management, which meant public lands would continue to be used for their economic benefits as well as valued for their intrinsic natural beauty.

more
What it Does:

 

Part of the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing the United States’ public lands. BLM carries out a variety of programs (PDF) for the management and conservation of resources on 258 million surface acres, as well as 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate, most of which is located in the American West and Alaska. These public lands make up approximately 13% of the total land surface of the US and more than 40% of all land managed by the federal government.
 
Public lands are characterized by grassland, forest, high mountain, arctic tundra and desert landscape ecosystems. The BLM manages the extraction of natural resources from public lands including oil, natural gas, minerals and timber. The bureau also administers mineral leasing and oversees mineral operations on federal mineral estate that underlies other state, private or federally-administered land, and it manages most mineral operations on Native American lands. The bureau administers more than 18,000 grazing permits and leases and manages rangelands and facilities for 57,000 wild horses and burros plus 117,000 miles of fisheries habitats. There are also numerous archaeological, paleontological and historical sites on public lands that BLM oversees.
 
BLM runs soil and watershed management programs on 175 million acres in the lower 48 states and 86 million acres in Alaska. Practices such as revegetation, protective fencing and water development are maintained to preserve the health of public lands. This goal includes fire protection programs as well.
 
Revenues generated from public lands make BLM a key revenue-generating agency for the federal government. In 2007, BLM’s onshore mineral leasing activities generated an estimated $4.5 billion in receipts from royalties, bonuses and rentals collected by the Minerals Management Service. However this agency has been criticized for not collecting as much money from oil and mining companies as it should (see Minerals Management Service). Approximately half of these revenues were returned to the states where the mineral leasing occurred. Other revenues that BLM lands generate come from logging by timber companies. Timber receipts (including salvage) totaled $55.4 million in FY 2007, up from $13.5 million in FY 2005. 
 
BLM Main Programs
Energy reviews and approves permits and licenses from companies to explore, develop and produce oil and gas and geothermal resources on both federal and Native American lands and takes care of mining and minerals efforts. This division also inspects oil, gas and geothermal wells and other development operations to ensure that lessees and operators comply with the lease requirements and BLM regulations. Although the Bureau of Indian Affairs issues leases on reservation lands, BLM handles the operational approvals and supervision of operations on these lands.
 
The Fire and Aviation Directorate (FAD) is headquartered at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, where it works with seven other federal agencies to manage wild fires in the US. FAD has three organizational levels: 1) the national office develops policies, procedures and budgets for the fire and aviation program; 2) state offices coordinate policies and interagency activities within their state; and 3) field offices implement on-the-ground fire management and aviation activities that involve other government agencies.
 
Grazing oversees 160 million acres authorized for livestock grazing. The goal of the rangeland management program is to create “sustainable, working landscapes that are economically sound and ecologically healthy.” This directorate also is in charge of a set of regulatory changes aimed at improving BLM’s management of public grazing lands as part of a Grazing Final Environmental Impact Statement. The proposed regulations are intended to “improve BLM’s working relationships with public land ranchers, conserve rangeland resources and address legal issues while enhancing administrative efficiency.”
 
Planning undertakes land use planning while working with local, state and tribal governments, the public and economic stakeholders. This directorate oversees land use plans, called Resource Management Plans, which guide all actions on federal public lands. In 2001, BLM began evaluating and changing existing land use plans (many of which were more than 20 years old) in response to changing conditions and demands on public lands.  This included the preparation of new plans for designated units of the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). According to BLM, the bureau has completed 41 Resource Management Plans or amendments, with 50 more planning efforts in various stages of completion. BLM expects to complete more than 40 additional amendments, revisions and new plans in the next two years. 
 
Recreation manages the use of public lands for recreational activities, including camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, boating, whitewater rafting, hang gliding, off-highway vehicle driving, mountain biking, bird and wildlife viewing, photography, climbing, winter sports, and visiting natural and cultural heritage sites. The recreation office maintains a network of roads, trails and Scenic Byways for use by visitors. More than 22 million people live within 25 miles of BLM lands, and two-thirds of these lands are within 50 miles of an urban area, making them a popular destination for American vacationers. Visits to recreation sites on BLM lands totaled 55 million in 2006.
 
Smaller BLM programs
Abandoned Mine Lands program enhances public safety and improves water quality by reducing or eliminating the effects of past hardrock mining in the western United States. The program maintains an inventory of known abandoned mine lands on public lands. As of April 9, 2008, the inventory contained 12,204 sites and 49,376 features. Only 20% of the sites have either been remediated, have reclamation actions planned or underway, or do not require further action. The remaining 80% require further investigation and/or remediation.
 
National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) contains some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes. It includes more than 850 federally recognized areas and approximately 27 million acres of National Conservation Areas, National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Historic and Scenic Trails. The NLCS also safeguards Native American cliff dwellings and cultural sites and preserves the remaining traces of historic trails and pathways. One of the most important areas NLCS oversees is the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument.
 
National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a vast 23-million acre area on Alaska’s North Slope that has a history of nearly 100 years of petroleum exploration. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding set aside the 23 million acres as an emergency oil supply for the US Navy. In 1976, in accordance with the Naval Petroleum Reserve Production Act, the administration of the reserve was transferred to BLM and was renamed the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. BLM has held four lease sales in the reserve (Northeast - 1999 and 2002 and Northwest - 2004 and 2006) and currently administers more than 300 federal oil and gas leases. 
 
Natural and Cultural Heritage manages long-abandoned archaeological sites and historic landscapes. Public lands in the West and Alaska offer some of the world’s best outdoor laboratories for studying the fossilized remains of plant and animal life.
 
Cadastral Surveys create, mark, define, retrace or reestablish the boundaries and subdivisions of public lands. Cadastral surveys are the foundation upon which titles to all land that is now, or was once, part of the public domain rest.
 
National Integrated Lands System (NILS) is a joint project between BLM and the USDA Forest Service in partnership with states, counties and private industry to provide business solutions for the management of cadastral records and land parcel information in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment. NILS collects, maintains and stores parcel-based land and survey information.
 
Law Enforcement employs 180 uniformed BLM Rangers and 96 BLM Agents stationed in the western United States whose work includes investigating destruction and theft of cultural and paleontological resources; marijuana cultivation; off-highway vehicle issues; oil and gas issues, including spills or theft; effects of illegal immigration and smuggling on public lands; illegal dumping; wildfires; wild horse and burro killings and theft; livestock trespass; forest, cactus, and rock thefts; and guiding, outfitting, and subsistence hunting issues.
 
Other smaller BLM programs include:
-        Budget Information
-        Bureau's IT Architecture
-        Filming on Public Lands
-        Forests and Woodlands
-        Historic Bottles
-        Noxious Weeds
-        BLM Partnerships
-        Rights-of-Way

-        USGS-BLM Science Partnership

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Where Does the Money Go:
 
BLM’s most important stakeholders are oil, natural gas and mining interests. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the hardrock mining industry owns gold, silver and other precious metals and minerals beneath an estimated 5.6 million acres of US public land. After an examination of mining claims on public lands, EWG launched Who Owns the West, a web site where the public can find information on mining operations on lands managed by BLM.
 
Some key statistics compiled by EWG are as follows:
-        Total number of claim-holders: 28,408
-        Acres of public land claimed by the mining industry, estimated: 5,569,929 (2.5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park)
-        Dollars paid for each acre: as little as $0.84
-        Reimbursement to the federal government for gold, silver and other precious metals taken from public land: $0
-        Companies owning minerals on at least 10,000 public acres: 190
-        Percentage of claims held by foreign companies: 21%
-        Profits accrued in 2002 among top corporate claim-holders: $4 billion
 
Of the top 10 claim owners (by acreage), six are foreign companies:
Claim Owner
# Claims
Acreage
Newmont Mining Corp (Denver, CO)
17,643
347,458
Placer Dome Inc (Canada)       
13,766
268,758
Rio Tinto Limited (Australia)     
10,097
191,928
Barrick Gold Corporation (Canada)       
5,768
125,956
7,105
124,297
Kinross (Canada)
4,306
98,853
Cameco Corp (Canada)            
3,209
66,204
3,187
61,801
Dr Gordon Reynolds (Price, UT)
300
48,000
Carl Pescio (Elko, NV)
2,277
46,996
 
EWG also provides information about oil and gas leases on BLM lands. According to Who Owns the West? Oil and Gas Leases, the federal government since 1982 has leased or offered 229 million acres of public and private land in 12 western states for oil and gas drilling—an area larger than the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona combined. There are 8,604 companies and individuals in possession of 44,690 active oil and gas leases encompassing 34.9 million acres of land.
 
The top 10 oil and gas lease holders are:
Lease Holder
# Leases
Acreage
Yates Petroleum Corp (Artesia, NM)
4,098
3,584,742
1,464
1,359,351
Tom Brown Inc (Denver, CO)
1,365
1,150,518
Devon Energy Corporation (Oklahoma City)      
1,528
1,054,235
Westport Oil & Gas Co LP (Denver)    
1,199
1,022,347
Burlington Resources (Fort Worth)        
1,223
914,375
ConocoPhillips (Houston)          
976
811,131
Questar Corporation (Salt Lake City)     
1,102
768,804
Exxon Mobil (Irving, TX)
1,175
734,004
Anadarko Petroleum Corp (The Woodlands, TX)
931
732,058
 

Information on mining claims, oil and gas leases and other business is provided by BLM through its

Legacy Rehost System

(LR2000). This database, however, is complicated and not user-friendly when trying to run reports that detail company activity on BLM lands. Users of the system must have the Internet Explorer browser to access LR2000.

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Controversies:

 

California Desert Left Out of Protection Status
In March 2008 environmental activists were outraged by a BLM decision to exclude large tracts of California desert from federal protection. In question was more than half of the 10.6 million-acre California Desert Conservation Area that stretches from the Mexican border to Mono Lake.
 
The controversy stemmed from BLM’s reading of a proposed Congressional plan to permanently protect 26 million acres of beautiful and historic landscapes in the American West. Because the California desert area doesn’t contain “national” in its title, the conservation area didn’t qualify for protection, according to BLM attorneys.
 
But environmental groups and some BLM employees claimed that the semantics hid the political motives of utility companies that want to build hundreds of miles of electrical transmission corridors through California’s deserts. Also, off-road vehicle enthusiasts opposed further regulation of the area.
 
Supporters of the California desert want the area to be included in the National Landscape Conservation Act, which would unify the management and funding for areas such as the original Pony Express National Historic Trail, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, a million acres of Alaskan caribou calving grounds, 38 wild rivers, Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and a tiny ghost town near the Mexican border.
 
Democratic Senators Oppose BLM Utah Plans
In April 2008 a group of US Democratic senators appealed to BLM to reconsider management plans that threatened thousands of acres of pristine wilderness. The bureau was developing six Resource Management Plans and travel plans for 11 million acres of public land in the Colorado Plateau region of southern Utah.
 
According to Senators Dick Durban (D-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), the area consists of approximately three million acres of roadless land possessing “wilderness character.” But BLM in its draft plans offered “virtually no protection” for the three million acres, leaving them subject to off-road vehicles and oil, gas, and hardrock mineral development.
 
The senators urged BLM to consider alternative management of the territory to protect it “from the scars of off-road vehicle routes and energy development.”
 
Leasing Protests
In 2004 the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance celebrated BLM’s decision to not offer two highly controversial oil and gas leases just outside of Hovenweep National Monument in southeastern Utah. The environment groups opposed the leases because the public lands in-and-around Hovenweep are considered important cultural sites because of ancient cliff dwellings and kivas.
 
The Hovenweep leasing controversy followed a decision by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) which ruled in favor of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and NRDC in overturning a 2002 BLM decision to lease approximately 9,500 acres of public lands for oil and gas development. Of the seven parcels contested by the conservation groups, four were located east of Zion National Park and three were located near Bear Lake in northeastern Utah.

BLM Backs Off Oil & Gas Leasing Near Hovenweep National Monument (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance)

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Comments

msandrea nicole Smith 1 year ago
hi just wondering if this company that i'm looking to invest into is legit WesState oil also looking for a small company that is under $500.00 please contact me a76542nicole@yahoo.com New Orleans La Native
Faqm Mall 1 year ago
Can not believe you are using the word management to ok the slaughter of horses!! Seems our government is hell bent on ridding the west of the last icon of freedom. But what else to expect from the same government that used other fancy wording to round up and slaughter the Native Americans. I am certain industrial ranchers need tha land for cheap grazing and the whores in Washington are more than glad to abide...
Nancy Huff 1 year ago
bob abbey, after watching the pathetic roundup of horses, burros and whatever else the nation witnessed on the tube tonight, i felt literally sick at my stomach to know we have people like you sitting at a furnished desk with a chair in a/c to sit and authorize such disgusting behavior. where do you find justification in forking those animals with the landing blades of a helicopter in their anuses and rolling them causing whatever physical damage you feel is justified to herd those...
Bob and Kim Chmel 1 year ago
dear mr. abbey, director of the blm, it is very disturbing that the blm has planned a roundup of wild burros in the cibola-trigo and chocolate-mule areas next week (june 4th). in 100-degree plus temperatures in these areas, it is absolutely inhumane to subject these animals to helicopter roundups of this type, which in themselves are incredibly inhumane. we are appalled and saddened that once again our government is pursuing an assault on the animals that live on "our" public l...
Mary Kaye Black 2 years ago
how can i make sure the blm land in az. is used for more grazing? i also bike. i would like to find out how organizations like the coalition of az. bicyclists can work with blm to improve trails for mountain biking?
David Alvarez 3 years ago
I want to order the latest version of the "Manual of Surveying Instructions". I think the latest version is now for the year 2009.
William Ruckman 4 years ago
How can I obtain information on where to go to tinker around with a gold pan, portable sluice box, or metal detector without getting onto someone else s claim in Siskiyou County? I was told you have information on existing and abandoned claims. Also, do you have a website with mineral and gem locations in the county? I live in Yreka, CA and would like to look in places west of here. Sincerely, William Ruckman williamruckman@hotmail.com

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Founded: 1946
Annual Budget: $996.4 million
Employees: 11,352
Bureau of Land Management
Abbey, Bob
Director

Confirmed on August 6, 2009, President Obama’s Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a twenty-five year veteran of the agency who was put forward for the position by Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the powerful Senate Majority Leader. Although his nomination was stalled by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was pressuring the administration to support a controversial copper mine proposed for a national forest in his state, McCain eventually relented. 

 
Born circa 1951 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Abbey is a 1969 graduate of Clarksdale High School. He went on to earn a B.S. in Resource Management from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1973.  
 
Abbey spent more than 32 years in public service, working with state and federal land management agencies before retiring from the federal government in July 2005. Straight out of college, Abbey took a job with the Mississippi State Park system, where he worked for more than four years before accepting a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In that job, he first interacted with the BLM, to which he soon applied for a job. Abbey was hired by BLM in 1980 for a position in its Casper, Wyoming, field office. Between 1980 and 1992, Abbey worked there, moving on to positions as assistant district manager in Yuma, Arizona and as budget analyst in Washington, D.C. In 1992, Abbey was promoted to head of the Jackson, Mississippi, field office, where he remained into 1995, when he was named acting state BLM director in Colorado, where he served from 1995 through 1997. From 1997 to 2005, Abbey served as the Nevada State Director for BLM, providing oversight for 48 million acres of public land managed by the bureau in the state. He oversaw a staff of 750 employees and managed an annual budget of $51 million. While in Nevada, Abbey was the principal BLM proponent for the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, a plan to restore North America’s largest desert to its original state by removing invasive plant species and making other changes. One anti-environmental stain on Abbey’s record, which no one raised during his confirmation process, was a federal administrative law judge ruling that Abbey had, in October 2004, illegally dismissed a manager overseeing the cleanup of an abandoned copper mine for pursuing worker safety, radiation, and air and water pollution violations.   The decision was affirmed on appeal.
 
Abbey retired in July 2005, after which he became a partner in a private consulting firm called Abbey, Stubbs, & Ford, LLC, which had offices in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. He also served as a member of the University of Nevada College of Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Committee and as a board member on several statewide and national non-profit organizations, including Friends of Nevada Wilderness. His post-retirement criticism of the environmental damage caused by off-road vehicles stirred the ire of some who advocate such activities on public land.
 
Abbey and his wife Linda have been married for 32 years and currently reside in Reno, Nevada. They have one daughter, Leigh.
 
Nothing Positive in Mining Bill (op-ed by Bob Abbey)
Nevada BLM Cleans Out Cleanup Project Manager (by Laura Paskus, High Country News)
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Caswell, Jim
Previos Director

im Caswell served as director of the Bureau of Land Management from August 2007 until the end of the administration of George W. Bush. A Vietnam War veteran, Caswell is a 1967 graduate of Michigan State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry.

 
He spent 33 years in various positions with the Bureau of Land Management, Bonneville Power Administration and the US Forest Service. For 16 of those years, he served as forest supervisor on the Clearwater and Targhee National Forests. Caswell was also deputy forest supervisor at Boise National Forest and acting deputy regional forester in Missoula, Montana.
 
Then Caswell headed Idaho’s state Office of Species Conservation under Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID). In charge of endangered species issues and management, the office won the state legislature’s approval in 2001 for controversial issues involving wolf management and grizzly bears in Yellowstone.
 
In taking over BLM, Caswell worked again for Kempthorne, who was the head of the Interior Department.
 
 
 
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