Guest Opinion: Your Lands. Your Treasure. Get Involved. | TSLN.com

Guest Opinion: Your Lands. Your Treasure. Get Involved.

Jamie E. Connell
State Director, BLM Montana/Dakotas

Public lands entrusted to the Bureau of Land Management in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota — about 8 million acres and 47 million acres of mineral estate – not only help power our nation but also help Americans pay their bills through oil and gas production, mining, logging, grazing and outfitting. Natural and cultural resources on these lands also provide a wealth of opportunities for camping, mountain biking, hiking, hunting, shooting, fishing and bird watching. In fiscal year 2012, BLM activities on these acres supported more than 39,000 jobs and contributed more than $7.25 billion to these states' economies. Nationwide, the BLM administers more land – over 245 million acres – than any other federal agency; for every $1 invested in our agency, we return more than $4 to the U.S. Treasury.

Those are some of the reasons why you should play a role in guiding these important missions. We need you to get involved. Representing your stakeholders on one of our many citizen-based Resource Advisory Councils (RAC) will help BLM land managers make effective decisions that drive local, on-the-ground management of these valuable and productive resources entrusted to us. That's why we issued a call on Feb. 10, 2014, in the Federal Register, to those interested in serving on a BLM RAC. These committees, whose members are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, provide an excellent opportunity for individuals from all backgrounds and interests to have a voice in the management of public lands.

The BLM's RACs provide land managers representative counsel on such programs as grazing, rights-of-way, outdoor recreation and associated fees, energy and mineral development, archaeological and historical resources, and wild horses. Other RAC members serve the public-at-large. We'll ask you to serve a 3-year term and attend two to four meetings a year in your region. You'll serve without salary but are reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses at the current government rate.

Operating on the principle of collaborative decision making while striving for consensus, the RACs have been successful in bringing diverse and often competing interests to the table to deal with issues of mutual concern. Through the years, recommendations brought forth by these committees have often enjoyed a high level of public support and led to sustainable outcomes that ultimately benefit the natural and cultural resources the BLM manages for America.

Remember, these are your lands, your treasure, so please get involved. For contact information and to learn more about serving as a BLM RAC member, please visit our website at: http://blm.gov/xpld. You'll also find there a link to the nomination form you'll need to apply.