Public Lands:

Limited Progress in Resource Management Planning

RCED-90-225: Published: Sep 27, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) progress in developing and implementing land-use plans and in designating areas of critical environmental concern.

GAO found that: (1) BLM completed only 63 of the 136 legislatively required resource management plans for public lands and projected that it would complete all of them by 1997; (2) unless BLM converted the goals and decisions of the completed plans into actions, the plans were of limited practical value; (3) the plans lacked the specific details needed to implement goals, and BLM did not develop, schedule, track, or link budgetary resources to plan decisions or activities; and (4) BLM designations of areas of critical environmental concern were inconsistent and substantially dependent on the views of field managers.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The BLM Washington Office has emphasized the importance of plan use and implementation schedules. BLM has polled all of its field offices and field managers are reporting the status of their efforts to link implementation actions to the budgetary requirements needed to carry them out. The BLM fiscal year 1993 budget request includes an increase of $2.5 million for resource management plans.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, BLM, to closely monitor the implementation of its July 1990 resource management plan instructions by field offices.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: BLM has increased its identification of areas of critical environmental concern. As of March 31, 1991, about 500 ACEC have been designated on about 8.2 million acres of public land--an increase of 71 ACEC since the GAO report. There are substantial numbers of new ACEC under consideration in the 37 resource management plans now in progress.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, BLM, to require that areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC) be specifically addressed and documented in the resource management planning process.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director, BLM, has emphasized his expectation for continued improvement toward a consistent approach to the treatment of potential and existing ACEC by field managers. A study of recently designated ACEC indicated a more consistent Bureau-wide approach to ACEC designation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, BLM, to monitor field offices' application of the area of critical environmental concern guidance to ensure greater consistency among the offices in the process and to ensure that eligible areas of the public lands are designated and protected as areas of critical environmental concern.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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