Bernhardt Signs Secretarial Orders, Confirmed as DOI Secretary

Bernhardt Signs Secretarial Orders, Confirmed as DOI Secretary

In late March, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed two secretarial orders, one ensuring recreational access when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) considers land disposal and the second for the department to facilitate the implementation of the public lands bill signed into law earlier that month. Bernhardt was confirmed on Thursday April 11 as the next Secretary of the Interior by a 56-41 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Secretarial Order 3373, Evaluating Public Access in BLM Land Disposals and Exchanges directs the BLM to evaluate the impacts to recreational access on lands being considered for disposal or exchange. The BLM is required under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to evaluate lands with potential for disposal or exchange. However, prior to SO 3373, the agency was not required to assess whether the action would impact recreational access. Moving forward, public access opportunities will be considered as part of Resource Management Plan revisions and the agency will need to ensure continued or improved public access or evaluate alternatives if public access will be lost as a result of the final action.

“This order will help ensure that the Bureau of Land Management considers public access to public lands,” said Bernhardt. “It requires that before the BLM exchanges or disposes of any land, they must first consider what impact the disposal or exchange of land will have on public access.”

On March 28, Bernhardt signed Secretarial Order 3374, Implementation of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act that establishes a departmental task force to facilitate and prioritize implementation of the law. The order lays out timeframes to identify actionable steps and milestones, create an implementation plan, and ensure that the Department meets the timelines included in the Dingell Act. The law includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Bernhardt expressed his support for during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In addition, the law includes numerous public lands conservation and recreation provisions.

“The entire recreation industry – from boating and fishing, hunting and snowmobiling, paddling and ORVing, skiing and climbing, to camping and biking – came together to support the passage of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, a monumental win for the recreation economy and outdoor enthusiasts across the country,” said Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Executive Director Jessica Wahl. “With today’s Secretarial Order, we look forward to the timely implementation of dozens of important recreation provisions that have been decades in the making, as well as partnering with the task force to ensure the full potential of this groundbreaking legislation is unlocked.”

April 15, 2019