Acting Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands

Acting Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands
© Bureau of Reclamation

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ordered Thursday that federal land managers consider public access when selling or trading public land.

“This order will help ensure that the Bureau of Land Management [BLM] considers public access to public lands,” Bernhardt said in a statement.

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“It requires that before the BLM exchanges or disposes of any land, they must first consider what impact the disposal or exchange of land will have on public access. The Trump Administration will continue to prioritize access so that people can hunt, fish, camp, and recreate on our public lands," he said.

This order will address concerns that some federal and state land is inaccessible without crossing privately owned territory, according to The Associated Press.

The move was praised by some conservationists.

“In some places, there are small parcels of BLM land that serve as the only means of nearby access to hunting and fishing or as the only access points to adjoining public lands managed by other agencies," Whit Fosburgh, head of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said Thursday. 

"The Secretarial Order will ensure that key parcels are valued for this recreational access and help keep these lands in the public’s hands.”

Bernhardt's order comes a week before he is set to have his confirmation in front of the Senate to assume the permanent position.

He has been leading the agency since December, when former Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned.

Bernhardt worked as an oil lobbyist before entering the government and has had to recuse himself from matters involving so many former clients that he carries a card listing them, according to The Washington Post.