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Land-Use Planning

Through a proper land use planning process, the national interest is best served by addressing the present and future use of public lands.  The Secretary of the Interior is required with public involvement to develop, maintain, and, revise land-use plans that provide by tracts or areas for the use of the public lands.  Land use plans is developed for the public lands regardless of whether such lands were previously classified, withdrawn, set aside, or otherwise designated for one or more uses[i].

There are certain criteria for the development and revision of land use plans.  The Secretary of the Interior must[ii]:

  • use and observe the principles of multiple use and sustained yield set forth in the law;
  • use a systematic interdisciplinary approach to achieve integrated consideration of physical, biological, economic, and other sciences;
  • give priority to the designation and protection of areas of critical environmental concern;
  • rely on the inventory of the public lands, their resources, and other values;
  • consider present and potential uses of the public lands;
  • consider the relative scarcity of the values involved and the availability of alternative means and sites for realization of those values;
  • weigh long-term benefits to the public against short-term benefits;
  • provide for compliance with applicable pollution control laws, including State and Federal air, water, noise, or other pollution standards or implementation plans.


Further, the Secretary of the Interior prepares and maintains on a continuing basis an inventory of all public lands and their resource giving priority to areas of critical environmental concern.  This inventory will be kept current so as to reflect changes in conditions and to identify new and emerging resource and other values.  The preparation and maintenance of such inventory or the identification of such areas will not change the management or use of public lands[iii].

The Secretary of the interior also ascertains the boundaries of the public lands; provide means of public identification including signs and maps; and provide state and local governments with data from the inventory for the purpose of planning and regulating the uses of non-federal lands in proximity of such public lands[iv].

It is to be noted that through public involvement, the Secretary of the Interior provides an opportunity for participation by affected citizens in rulemaking, decision making, and planning with respect to the public lands is provided.  It includes public meetings or hearings held at locations near the affected lands or advisory mechanisms necessary to provide public comment in a particular instance[v].

Further, the Secretary of the Interior is required to notify the public and federal, state, and local governments and also to afford an opportunity to participate in forming plans and programs relating to the management of public lands[vi].  Management decisions issued by the secretary of the interior to implement land-use plans may be subject to reconsideration, modification, and termination through revision.

[i] 43 USCS § 1712.

[ii] Id.

[iii] 43 USCS § 1711.

[iv] Id.

[v] 43 USCS § 1702.

[vi] 43 USCS § 1712.

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