Defending BLM actions |

Defending BLM actions

James M. Hughes, Deputy Director for Programs and Policy Bureau of Land Management

Contrary to assertions by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as reported in an Associated Press article published in the Summit Daily News on May 15, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is safeguarding cultural resources – archaeological and historic sites – on the public lands it manages. The BLM takes care to protect these special places as it carries out its multiple-use mandate from Congress, which involves the management of a host of activities, including energy development, on public lands.The Bureau places strict limits on when oil and gas drilling can occur, and takes numerous other measures to minimize energy’s “footprint” on public lands. In fact, less than one percent of the 261.8 million acres managed by the BLM experiences surface disturbance from oil and gas activity. Before even processing a drilling permit, the Bureau requires inventories and environmental analyses of all areas that could be potentially affected by energy development. Cultural resource inventories, such as those being done along National Historic Trails in Wyoming and other states, are fully paid for by oil and gas companies, as are any actions needed to mitigate impacts to these resources or to reclaim the land after use.Besides ensuring environmentally sound energy development, the BLM deploys law enforcement officers across the West to protect resources from impacts caused by other activities on public lands, such as off-highway vehicle use. The work of these BLM rangers and special agents is supplemented by numerous state and local law enforcement officers, such as county sheriff deputies. The BLM’s commitment to protecting cultural properties is further evidenced by President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget for the agency, which includes $18.1 million for cultural resource management – a $3 million increase over the current fiscal year.

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