Bureau of Land Management

A Wyoming rig on federal land used for long directional drilling
BLM Wyoming / Bureau of Land Management

The Department of Interior, or DOI, plans to begin the process of changing the methane rule that’s currently in effect, and possibly end it permanently. The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule aims to reduce unnecessary gas and oil emissions by improving technology, reducing flaring, and spotting leaks early.  

U.S. Forest Service

Forest fires have dominated headlines in much of the west this summer. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso chairs the Senate Environment Committee and this week held a hearing on a string of bills that proponents say will help keep those catastrophic wildfires at bay.

To Barrasso and a bipartisan group of senators, the problem is clear: Catastrophic wildfires are manmade, well more precisely, made by the inaction of man and all the red tape of environmentalists.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Ranchers have long complained about the amount of red tape required to get grazing permits, and about not being included on land management decisions.

The Bureau of Land Management hopes to resolve some of that tension with a new pilot program that will speed up the permitting process and allow ranchers to determine the best way to make rangelands healthier.

Wyoming BLM spokesperson Kristen Lenhardt said it’s in the best interest of ranchers to improve rangeland quality and their voice needs to be heard.

Earthjustice

The Obama-era “Fracking Rule" that would increase safety and transparency regulations for oil and gas companies is back on the table. A federal appeals court vacated a 2015 decision that stopped the fracking rule, citing government overreach and costliness.

Red Desert
Sam Cox / US Department of Agriculture

The Wilderness Society, a national conservation group, has designated the northern Red Desert as one of 15 wildland areas most at-risk of energy development on public lands. The Red Desert in southern Wyoming is home to several hundred wildlife species and numerous wilderness study areas, and up till now, has avoided significant energy development.  

But the Bureau of Land Management is reconsidering its management plan, which could result in renewed oil and gas drilling.

Maggie Mullen

Thousands of years ago in northern Wyoming, countless animals fell to their death at the bottom of an 85-foot cave. Natural Trap Cave has long been closed to recreation, but scientists have spent the last four summers unearthing the remains of many now-extinct animals. Excavations will soon come to an end.

 

Maggie Mullen

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public input on a proposed wild horse gather in southwest Wyoming — they want to hear what people think about a recent environmental assessment. 

A wild horse gather is a herd management technique meant to remove the animal from the land, before entering them into the agencies wild horse and burro program, where they can be adopted.

Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile

This winter, the Upper Green River Basin has experienced seven high ozone days when the young and elderly are discouraged from spending time outdoors. Elaine Crumpley, the founder of CURED or Citizens United for Responsible Energy Development, said the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste rule would eventually help reduce that problem of air pollution in her community.

Stephanie Joyce

  

Coal country was celebrating this week when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lifted a coal moratorium signed into law by the Obama Administration 14 months ago. But now the question is whether coal companies will even decide to expand their production in states like Wyoming. With the price of natural gas so low, coal has been having a hard time competing. But if and when companies do expand, their first stop is the Bureau of Land Management to submit an application. Right now BLM has 11 applications, but all but one was submitted over ten years ago.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

This week, President Trump lifted a moratorium on new coal leases signed into law 14 months ago by President Obama. But Wyoming's Bureau of Land Management office says, even while that moratorium was in effect, the agency continued to take in lease applications for potential mining projects.

Public Domain

The Bureau of Land Management is asking for public comment on a proposed removal of wild horses in the Checkerboard area near Rock Springs.

In a press release, the Bureau of Land Management said they expect wild horses in the three herd management areas of the Checkerboard to become overpopulated in 2017, and a removal of more than 1,000 horses may be needed to reach the appropriate population levels.

BLM Wyoming

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to overturn a Bureau of Land Management planning rule that's been in the works for years with cooperation from sportsmen and ranchers. The BLM says Planning 2.0 would give the public more opportunity for input and provide more protection to big game migration routes that were discovered since the old rule was adopted.

Proponents such as the Wyoming Wilderness Association say if the rule is scrapped using the Congressional Review Act, those benefits would be lost until the end of the Trump administration.

The Bureau of Land Management

Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on whether to scrap a Bureau of Land Management plan, known as the BLM Planning 2.0, that was recently adopted under the Obama administration.

pixabay

An earlier version of this story implied hunting regulations for coyotes are determined by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. This version has been changed to reflect the fact that coyotes are classified as a predatory animal by state law. Therefore, they are managed by the Department of Agriculture. 

The Bureau of Land Management said they will not shut down two upcoming coyote hunting contests in the Rock Springs area. Various conservation groups had asked the agency to halt the hunts, calling them inhumane and dangerous.

Wikimedia Commons

An updated mitigation policy from the Bureau of Land Management will address inconsistent rules that once created problems for companies trying to operate in western states. Mitigation rules, or how companies are required to lessen or offset negative environmental effects they might cause on public land, will now be the same for all public land.

Eric Holst is the Associate Vice President at the Environmental Defense Fund. He said public land should be able to support both wildlife and energy development, and the new policy addresses the need to create such a balance.

Bureau of Land Management

A new rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management could cut years off of lengthy land use planning debate. The agency said “Planning 2.0” would streamline procedures that have taken up to eight years in the past.

A major component of the initiative includes more opportunities for early public involvement, rather than later on when the agency has already spent years working on a plan.

Maggie Mullen

 

It’s an unseasonably warm November day in Wyoming, and a small group of Bureau of Land Management employees is out in the Checkerboard, just east of Rock Springs. Like a lot of Wyoming, it’s arid with wide open spaces. They’re looking for wild horses. Leading the way is Jay D’Ewart, who works with wild horses for the Rock Springs field office.

“Besides the paperwork,” says D’Ewart. “I’m the eyes and ears for the wild horses out here on the range.”

Wyoming’s first utility-scale solar farm is being proposed in Sweetwater County. 

Wyoming currently has less than 2 megawatts of installed solar in the entire state. If built, the Sweetwater project would be 80 megawatts—enough to power roughly 24,000 homes.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The fight over the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota has brought to the fore tensions over whether tribes are adequately consulted about development that could affect them. Now, the Secretary of the Interior has issued an order addressing that.

Secretary Sally Jewell’s order directs agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to collaborate more with tribes on resource management.

Public Domain

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Friday that the Bureau of Land Management broke the law during a wild horse round up in 2014 in an area southeast of Rock Springs known as the Checkerboard. 

The Checkerboard gets its name from its alternating patches of public and private lands. Bill Eubanks, who represented the plaintiff -- mostly wild horse advocacy groups -- explained in a press release that this ruling prevents the BLM from treating public lands as private land in Checkerboard areas, making the wild horse roundup procedure more complicated.

There's no clear legal path forward for states who want to transfer federal lands into state management, according to a new report by the Conference of Western Attorneys General, chaired by Wyoming's attorney general Peter Michael.

The report looked at several legal strategies proposed by Wyoming, Utah and other states, like the argument that eastern and western states should have an equal percentage of public lands, or that the federal government can't hold lands indefinitely. 

Dan Hayward

A new study will use GPS transmitters to track the movements of wild horses in the Adobe Town Herd Management area, southwest of Rock Springs. Researchers from the University of Wyoming and the Bureau of Land Management are teaming up to track at least 20 wild horses in a project funded by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

There is little currently known about the migration patterns of wild horses. The GPS collars are the latest in wildlife tracking technology and will allow the researchers to get real time information on the animals via a satellite.

Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

The Bureau of Land Management has released new documents to guide its sage grouse protection strategy. Last year, the agency announced new sage grouse management plans covering more than 60 million acres across 10 states. Those plans were a major factor in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision not to list the bird as endangered, but they didn't include many details about how the protections would actually be implemented.

For the second time in two years, the Bureau of Land Management will round up all the wild horses that roam a controversial area in southwest Wyoming. Known as “the Checkerboard,” it’s an area where wild horses live on federal and private land, but a court decision ruled that the BLM must manage the area's horses as if on private land. The horses collected in this round up will eventually be put up for adoption. 

In a new report, the Government Accountability Office criticizes public lands agencies for poor management of grazing permits. The watchdog says conflicts and armed standoffs over grazing rights, like the one in 2014 in Nevada, would be less likely if public land agencies improved their permit tracking methods.

NBC News / via Twitchy

The recent use of the acronym BLM in national conversation has left some Westerners confused. 

At this week’s Democratic National Convention, the Wyoming delegation wore t-shirts supporting Black Lives Matter, or in shorthand, BLM. Nina McConigley is a writer who lives Laramie. She posted about the show of support on her Facebook page, writing "Wyoming delegation - all wearing BLM shirts! As a POC [Person of Color] in Wyo, this makes me so so happy." She says that elicited a lot of confused comments in response. 

At a House Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting in Washington last week, Republican lawmakers criticized the Bureau of Land Management for its plans to research new sterilization methods for wild horses. Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert said there has been enough research and that it's time to start acting. 

“We don’t have time for a lot more studies. This has been an issue for years. It seems like we need a bill to end the studies and start the implementation.”

Emily Guerin

Dustin Bergsing was a young, fit, bull rider from Montana. On a cold night in January 2012, he climbed to the catwalk on top of a 20 foot tall crude oil storage tank on an oil well pad in North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield. His job was to pop open the small hatch on top and drop a rope inside to measure the level of oil.

Just after midnight, he was found dead by a co-worker, slumped on the catwalk.

Stephanie Joyce

A panel that makes recommendations on whether new federal coal projects should move forward has given the green light to two proposals in Montana and Wyoming.

Cloud Peak Energy and Lighthouse Resources want to mine a combined 644 million tons of coal from government reserves. The Powder River regional coal team recommended that the Bureau of Land Management begin the environmental review process for both projects.

Wyoming County Commissioners Association

There are 45 wilderness study areas scattered around the state on federal lands that are, in effect, stuck in limbo; only an act of Congress can make them true wilderness or release them for other uses.

But a new program called the Wyoming Public Land Initiative introduced Wednesday at the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee in Cheyenne would hand over the process of making that decision to county governments.

Wyoming County Commissioners Association Director Pete Obermueller says, the time has come to deal with those lands.

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