The Bureau of Land Management oversees 246 million acres of land — scrubby sagebrush, rolling deserts and dense forests — mostly in the Western U.S. It’s home to all sorts of things, from sage grouse, pronghorn and ponderosa pines to dirt bikers, cows and drilling infrastructure.
But a new lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the BLM is not managing its land in a way that fulfills its environmental responsibilities. Attorneys from Advocates of the West filed the lawsuit on behalf of environmental nonprofits Western Watersheds Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). “Across much of the West, we see BLM as the Bureau of Land Mismanagement,” said Chandra Rosenthal, Rocky Mountain PEER director, in a press release. (Disclosure: Rosenthal is a sibling of HCN’s executive editor.)
The lawsuit states that the BLM hasn’t conducted required environmental reviews for almost two-thirds of its 35,000 current grazing permits. The agency leases more than half of its acreage to ranchers as grazing allotments for livestock.