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Bureau of Land Management Releases Draft Public Land Access Priorities

Agency will use final list to identify and resolve public recreational access issues on priority parcels as part of nationwide Dingell Act implementation efforts

WASHINGTON--As part of its efforts to implement the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the Bureau of Land Management today released a draft list of public lands with limited or restricted public access for hunting, fishing or other outdoor recreational opportunities, along with a draft map of priority access nominations received from the public and partners. When finalized, this priority list will guide the BLM’s efforts to resolve access issues and expand public recreation opportunities on these parcels of land across the West.

“When President Donald Trump signed this bipartisan bill into law, he furthered his indelible legacy of balancing natural resources conservation and responsibly expanding recreation opportunities on our public lands,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “I am proud that the Department of the Interior and its bureaus have worked exhaustively this past year to meet our goals for implementing this historic public lands law for the American people.”

“We are committed to expanding access to public lands, and augmenting opportunities for all Americans to hunt, fish and otherwise enjoy outdoor recreational opportunities on the more than 245 million acres of land we manage nationwide on their behalf,” said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. “We know, though, that especially in the West, the checkerboard of interwoven federal, state and private lands often makes access to prime parcels of public land difficult. That’s why we’re grateful for the strong support and insight provided by the public and our partners to help us identify priority lands where we can resolve access issues with willing landowners using all the tools in our tool box - including land exchanges, direct purchases, easements and external donations.”

The BLM has identified 606 priority geographic areas, in 13 western states, representing approximately 4.7 million acres of public lands in need of some type of public access improvement. During the 30-day public comment and nomination period, which closed on Feb. 29, 2020, the BLM received more than 1,900 additional priority access nominations from the public, state agencies and non-governmental organizations.

This effort advances a primary goal of the Dingell Act (S. 47), which was signed into law by President Trump in March 2019. Section 4105 of the Act directs the BLM to develop a priority list, which identifies the location and acreage of BLM-managed parcels 640 acres or larger open to hunting, fishing, or other recreational purposes, and which have no legal public access or where access is significantly restricted. It also aligns with Secretary's Order 3356, which directs the BLM and other Department of the Interior Bureaus to identify ways to expand access for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation on agency-managed lands. 

The BLM will spend the next several months reviewing nominations for accuracy to ensure they meet all Dingell Act criteria for inclusion in the final lists and maps to be published later this fall. The draft public lands access priorities will be available for viewing beginning March 12, 2020 by accessing the Dingell Act Public Access ePlanning Page.

BLM requested assistance from the public in nominating parcels of lands managed by the agency that are greater than 640 acres, on which the public is allowed to hunt, fish, or use the land for other recreational purposes, but to which there is no legal public access or where access is significantly restricted. 

The BLM is working to implement Dingell Act tasks assigned in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah, Montana/Dakotas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon/Washington, and the Eastern States Office (Louisiana and Minnesota).  Implementing the Dingell Act is a top priority for Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt.  Implementing the Dingell Act will continue the Department of the Interior’s work to strike proper balance for land and resources management, increase access for hunting, fishing, and recreation, and create economic prosperity while protecting and preserving America’s treasures.  

To learn more about the Dingell Act and how it affects your public lands, please visit https://www.blm.gov/about/laws-and-regulations/dingell-act.

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