Today, the Secretary of the Interior released a report on the Department’s mitigation strategy, which details ways the Bureau of Land Management and others will limit and account for the impacts of development on public lands, especially energy development. Our public lands provide many benefits we all enjoy, including recreation and energy development.
With the new mitigation strategy, the Department of Interior lays out a common sense, place-based and scientifically grounded approach to balancing the many uses of public lands. Rather than reactively planning one parcel at a time, the Department will look at a whole landscape, identify what’s there and then decide what should go where. We think this landscape-level approach makes a lot of sense. With a better picture of an entire landscape, the Department will be able to better balance all of the benefits the place provides.
The strategy emphasizes the hierarchy of mitigation, which is first to avoid impacts altogether, then minimize impacts. Only after exhausting these options will it be necessary to compensate for impacts, including cumulative impacts, in transparent and consistent ways. It does well to emphasize avoidance, the often overlooked but preferable form of mitigation.
The report laudably proposes “Geospatial Assessments” as a way to catalogue all the values of a landscape. We are excited to work with the Department of Interior to share our community’s geospatial data about human powered recreation resources to help generate a more refined understanding of those landscape values.
Similarly, the report mentions convening two forums, one on geospatial information and one on landscape-scale analysis, and we hope to contribute our knowledge of human powered recreation to both. We commend Secretary Jewell on this promising strategy, and look forward to working with the Department of Interior to make it a reality.