BLM Seeking Comment on Rule to Streamline Land Closure Process

BLM Seeking Comment on Rule to Streamline Land Closure Process

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would change the process for decisions to restrict access to lands that it manages during emergencies or unforeseen events. According to the Federal Register notice, the BLM “proposes to modernize and streamline how the agency notifies the public of temporary closure and restriction orders; clarify that the BLM may issue temporary closure or restriction orders to implement management responsibilities, avoid conflicts among public land users, and ensure the privacy of Tribal activities for traditional or cultural use; require that all orders specify the date and time that a temporary closure or restriction becomes effective and terminates; and make the penalties for violating temporary closure and restriction orders consistent with current statutory authority.”

Currently, emergency or temporary closures require a notice to be published in the Federal Register and to be signed by an authorized officer. The proposed rule would allow the agency to inform the public through local media outlets and a BLM-controlled publicly available communication system including social media. The rule doesn’t impose time limitations on a closure, noting that “a temporary closure or restriction order would generally remain in effect until the situation it is addressing has ended or abated, it expires by its own terms, or the BLM issues a superseding decision which can include incorporating the terms of a closure or restriction order into a resource management plan.” In addition, the rule doesn’t affect the public’s ability to comment on the temporary closure or restriction, however the order would go into effect immediately upon signature and would remain in effect pending a decision on an administrative appeal

The proposed rule would allow exemptions for Tribal members for traditional uses of public lands, as appropriate. It would also specify that any closure or restriction on BLM public lands in Alaska must follow the procedures and limits on subsistence use established in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Requirements from the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act for public feedback on closures to hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting would be unaffected.

The 60-day comment period for the proposed rule closes on January 22. For more information on the proposed changes to the BLM rules, including how to submit comments, visit and search "RIN 1004-AE89".

January 16, 2024