Master Leasing Plans

The Bureau of Land Management is lead­ing the way to ensure a balanced approach to energy development on public lands. BLM is doing this with an innovative planning tool known as a master leas­ing plan that looks across the landscape, involves local stakeholders, and avoids conflicts before they start.

By identifying the right places to drill along with the values we need to protect — such as clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, and farm and ranchland — we can ensure that our lands are working in a balanced way for the benefit of everyone.

The BLM’s Colorado State Office deserves praise for working to strike that balance by adopting three master leasing plans in the northwestern part of the state. Colorado BLM also has a fourth plan underway for the South Park Basin, and a fifth plan proposed for lands adjacent to Mesa Verde National Park holds strong promise to protect one of the nation’s most iconic parks, safeguard water re­sources for nearby agricultural lands, and bolster local recreation resources. The Utah BLM has finished a landmark MLP for the Moab area, and has commenced another for the San Rafael Desert. These plans provide a road map to ensure future development is done right.

In fact, a balanced approach will strengthen Western economies, especially in rural areas with public lands. The recent downturn in oil and gas prices has fueled another bust in oil and gas development, emphasizing the need for economic diversity. By turning away from a winner-take-all approach, we can allow for responsible energy development while also providing for growth in other industries, such as tourism and recreation.