BLM needs a new identity

  Dear HCN,

Your "Beyond the Revolution" articles about the future of the new West could have included mention of the long-discussed proposal to place the BLM-managed lands into a National Public Lands System, similar to the national forest, national parks, and national wildlife refuge systems that protect our forests, parks and refuges. The BLM lands lack a national identity, and this makes it very difficult to get public understanding and acceptance of the vital role that they play in the environment and local economies of the West.

Though we endorse "special area" designation for some of the BLM lands, we believe a better plan would be to designate all BLM lands, by executive order, as a new National Public Lands System. The lands would be managed for multiple use by the BLM under the authorities of the Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA) of 1976. Within this National Public Land System, the president and Congress could establish national monuments and national conservation areas on the "crown jewel areas' that have special management or resource protection needs.

We believe that giving a distinctive name to the BLM lands will enhance public support and help keep these public lands in public hands.

George Lea
Arlington, Virginia

The writer is president of the nonprofit Public Lands Foundation.

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