Habitat & Conservation  |  02/14/2024

Policy Update: Bureau of Land Management


Advocating for more habitat opportunities with the country’s largest public lands manager

Among the opportunities to influence upland habitat throughout the United States, the sprawling landscapes which fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) represent 245 million acres of habitat management opportunity on public lands.

The dedicated chapter volunteers of PF and QF, along with the organization’s large network of biologists and habitat specialists, have utilized our partnership with BLM to restore habitat on more than 200,000 acres and increase access to 30,000 acres of landlocked public lands.
But there’s much more habitat work to be accomplished by proactively seeking opportunities through this maturing partnership.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever recently met with BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning in Washington, D.C. to discuss and map out conservation priorities moving forward into the new year, which include collaboration of QF and BLM’s fire and fuels teams, and strategizing funding to benefit additional upland bird species such as sage grouse, chukar, Hungarian partridge, and sharptails.
Additionally, we had the opportunity to discuss the following:
Public Lands Rule

Introduced in the spring of 2023, the “Public Lands Rule” would create a conservation leasing mechanism to use on BLM property that may strengthen the ability to ensure healthy landscapes, abundant wildlife habitat, clean water, and balanced decision-making on our nation’s public lands. Under the policy, conservation organizations, companies, or individuals would be able to lease BLM land for up to ten years—much like livestock grazers and other entities already do, but now with the specific intent of conserving or restoring the land. These conservation leases are expected to be a tool that can be used to carry out durable restoration and mitigation activities. 
While we celebrate the agency elevating conservation as a “use” of their expansive public resources (alongside grazing, timber harvest, mining, and other activities) and appreciate this innovative new leasing option, PF & QF have asked the BLM for clarity around several issues. For instance, it was not explicitly stated in the proposed rule that these conservation leases will not prohibit recreation, specifically hunting and fishing, within the lease boundaries.
The Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever team are monitoring the revision process for the proposed rule and look forward to having our questions answered when it is finalized and published, potentially later this spring. Additionally, PF & QF state leaders in the west region are developing strategies and concepts to use the tools in the conservation leasing rule to enhance our ability to drive our mission on BLM lands.

Wildlife Guzzlers
The organization’s Government Affairs team relayed to BLM frustrations that our California and Nevada chapters are experiencing with guzzler maintenance and implementation. Our southern California chapters, in particular, have had difficulty receiving approval to restore and implement guzzlers on BLM lands, after many years of successfully working with the agency to access these wilderness locations. In fact, this chapter issue served as the catalyst that prompted our recent meeting with Director Stone-Manning.
Why are guzzlers so important? Gallinaceous guzzlers are one of the main habitat tools utilized by these chapters. These permanent structures capture and store rainwater in holding tanks designed for wildlife to access, a necessity for small and big game in the arid west—many species are frequently found within a ¼-mile of water retention structures. Guzzlers ensure that no matter how dry the conditions, local wildlife have a dependable water source.
Shortly after Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever met with the BLM Director, local BLM field offices reached out to our chapters and re-opened the lines of communication. Logistics for a meeting to discuss the next steps in getting quail habitat work completed on guzzlers is currently underway, which is a large step in the right direction. 
The Government Affairs team is dedicated to leveraging policy to enable PF & QF conservation efforts on BLM lands across the West.
Advocating for Conservation

It takes good habitat to produce abundant wildlife and opportunities to hunt—but it also takes robust public funding and sound conservation policy to shape that habitat. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s dedicated Government Affairs team works in Washington D.C. and state capitols across America to create and secure funding for programs that benefit the uplands, from the rugged backcountry to the neighboring farm’s “back 40.” To learn more about our policy priorities and ways you can help advocate for conservation, visit this page.