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U.S. public land managers propose clarifying conservation as a land use

Bureau of Land Management land in Harney County, Ore.
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Phillips County prairie land

U.S. land managers are proposing a rule change that would add “conservation” as an official use for public lands.

Governors from six GOP-led states including Montana and Wyoming sent a letter this week against proposed changes that would require land managers to consider environmental protections and restoration the same way they do mineral development, livestock grazing, recreation and other land uses.

Revisions to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act have received more than 122,000 comments since the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released them in early April.

The governors in their letter argue that established pathways to conserve lands already exist and the rule changes could allow members of the public to circumvent those and stockpile lands that don’t need protection - to the exclusion of other uses.

Other dissenting commenters with similar concerns include the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council and Sheridan Electric Cooperative.

Supporters include environmental groups the Gallatin Wildlife Association and Wild Montana, both of which stress the urgency of addressing climate change through land management.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.