BLM Identifies Millions of Acres of Failing Lands
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for 245 million acres of public lands in 13 western states. The agency manages more public land than any other land management agency.
This report makes available to the public BLM data depicting rangeland health conditions of the 155,000,000 acres of leased livestock allotments under its administration. The data reveal that BLM most frequently cites livestock grazing, far and away, as the most significant cause of the failure of the allotment to meet Rangeland Land Health Standards (LHS). This is the same across most of the grazing lands in every state under the agency’s administration. We see that BLM has yet to assess millions of acres of land that is currently being leased. The data show that many of the BLM lands in sage grouse habitat are failing. Though BLM identifies many reasons for an allotment to be classified as failing, including livestock, invasive species, weeds, drought, fire, off highway vehicles and wild horses, horses are cited very few times. The data calls into question BLM’s policy decision to prioritize the removal of wild horses instead of making management decisions to directly address the cited reasons for failure.
PEER, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), received grazing allotment LHS records for BLM assessments conducted between 1997 and 2019 for 21,000 livestock allotments. Each of the BLM datasets contained problems with accuracy, resolution, completeness, timeliness, omissions, and inconsistencies, and it was clear that the agency had not subjected them to its rigorous data quality standards.
PEER compared these datasets to identify and correct these data quality problems to the best of our abilities, but ultimately, they reflect the condition of the data as received from BLM. The data quality issues were reconciled where possible and were converted into geospatial format to provide the public with an opportunity to examine the significance of livestock grazing as a factor impacting rangeland health as reflected in the BLM’s Land Health Standards evaluation data.
View report below or click here to download.