Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to discard an important planning process that is used to determine the future of 264 million acres of public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Senate will vote on this rule (S.J. Res. 15) in the next day or two.
Known as BLM 2.0, this planning process gives the public ample opportunity to weigh in on how BLM lands are managed. If thrown out, a significant amount of climbing (see list of climbing areas below), is again at risk because the climbing community will not have sufficient opportunities to express our concerns and recommendations.
BLM 2.0 provides the overarching framework for how the agency develops and manages all of their land—mostly in the western states. The agency began working to update its antiquated, decades-old planning process over 2 years ago, and it was barely completed before President Trump took office. It modernizes how the BLM views and interacts with the world, and it institutionalizes their desire for transparent collaboration with the public and, most importantly for climbers, their relatively recent support of recreation.
The BLM is still working to set up an implementation schedule for the new planning process, so no BLM district has yet to implement it. The Forest Service went through the exact same modernization of its planning process in 2012, and is completing plans for national forests now, an effort that Access Fund has been deeply involved in where climbing resources are present (i.e. Needles, Bear Creek Spire, Temple Crag, Stony Bald, Linville Gorge, Looking Glass, etc.).
BLM 2.0 is an essential planning tool because it mandates that all stakeholders have multiple opportunities to present their case, submit comments, and collaborate with the agency and other stakeholders. This planning process is the mechanism through which much of Access Fund’s work happens—it guarantees us a seat at the table where we advocate on behalf of the climbing community for the best possible conditions and management procedures that align with climbers’ core values.
Repealing BLM 2.0 will turn back the clock to the BLM’s antiquated planning process—minimizing stakeholder input on 264 million acres of public land. Climbers will lose our guaranteed seat at the table, and Access Fund’s ability to maintain access to and improve hundreds of climbing areas on BLM lands will be compromised.
Around 10% of our climbing areas are on BLM lands. Without BLM 2.0, decisions (including those concerning development, extraction, and access) will be made faster and without extensive input from climbers, conservationists, or any other stakeholder. This will result in more decisions that are made in haste, likely in favor of commercial uses of our public lands. While Access Fund is absolutely not opposed to responsible grazing and mining, we also want a permanent seat at the table to advocate for climbing.
This is not a partisan issue. If Congress throws out BLM 2.0, it is making a strong statement that your voice is not as important as commercial interests and that your values, whatever they are, do not need to be considered. This is a direct attack on our public lands and is part of the campaign to kill the public land system, one cut at a time. Congress is attempting to use the Congressional Review Act as a mechanism to kill BLM 2.0, and use of that act mandates that this same plan can never be developed again—resulting in the permanent death of this modern, collaborative planning process.
Around 10% of our nation’s climbing areas are located on BLM lands, including (but not limited to) classics like:
To learn more about this issue, check out this article from The Hill on BLM 2.0.