BLM Removed Sustainability Language from Press Releases
But the federal agency responsible for managing more than 245 million acres of public land kept the boilerplate about the economic value of these places
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
There’s something different about the Bureau of Land Management’s press releases as of this week. A sentence from the BLM’s mission statement referring to its role as the steward of the more than 245 million acres managed by the federal agency. Four sentences focused exclusively on the economic value of our public lands are still at the bottom of every press release, including those that predate the current administration.
The removed sentence read:
The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”
Here’s the text that remains:
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.
The change was first reported by the Huffington Post on Wednesday.
If you click on the Our Mission page of the BLM’s website, the original sentence is still there, for now, right at the top.
This isn’t the first bit of rebranding the agency has done under the Trump administration. In March 2018, BLM employees got a new “vision card” to wear in the field that includes an illustration of cowboys and cattle grazing on one side and an oil rig on the other, along with the agency’s mission and principles. A year earlier, the agency took some heat for swapping out a banner image of mountains on its homepage for a picture of coal (currently the images on the top of the page highlight recreation). Posters featuring national monuments were removed from the walls of the BLM’s Washington, D.C., headquarters in 2017.
It’s more than a casual redecoration. Those changes reflect the agency’s expanded effort under President Trump to prioritize fossil fuel development and mineral extraction over conservation, in spite of the fact that nearly one quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from federal lands.