Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Leonard Broberg

Commitee Members

Martin Nie, Jack Tuholske


University of Montana


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has long been engaged in resource production for human consumption. A claim that the BLM failed to fulfill its duty to consider biodiversity has not been likely to succeed in the courts because the BLM’s organic legislation, the Federal Land Management and Policy Act (FLPMA), includes a strong multiple-use mandate that, as one court put it, provides broad declarations of policy and goals, that "breathes discretion at every pore. " When BLM actions would impact biodiversity, the BLM insists that the action will not "significantly affect" the biosystem. Some believe that if the BLM were to revamp their approach to biodiversity, revise its regulations, and consider biodiversity an independent requirement aimed at conserving species, they would then aid in the protection of species. However, FLPMA statutory language regarding the duty to avoid permanent impairment of the "quality of the environment” may support restrictions on destructive activities in habitat that is inhabited by sensitive species. This thesis reviews the legislative history of the FLPMA "quality of the environment ” language, places it in context with judicial interpretations of FLPMA to date and explores the ramifications of its application to BLM management. The final implication of this review is that Congress intended to reach further than comparable multiple use management mandates for other federal land management agencies and that such Congressional intent could support a more aggressive biodiversity conservation stance by the BLM. Thus, where BLM fails to address biodiversity, a court could require the BLM either to include such protections or to explain why doing so would not be prudent.

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© Copyright 2008 Ron W. Malecki