Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Len Broberg

Commitee Members

Kevin McManigal, Martin Nie


BLM, GIS, ACEC, areas of critical environmental concern, suitability model


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Data Science | Natural Resources Management and Policy


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages a vast amount of public land in the western United States, most of which they currently manage for multiple uses. Specific conservation and management of these lands could mitigate climate change impacts and contribute to the global initiative to conserve 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030. Particularly, the agency can achieve this through more effective administration of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), a designation that is prioritized under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). To do so requires updated regulations that set clear parameters around inventory and designation, as well as a strategy for how to inventory and assess potential ACEC land—the latter of which can be achieved through a geospatial approach. This study models ACEC suitability across a case study using existing regulatory framework, predicting where high suitability exists and highlighting gaps in agency planning. Results indicate the need for a more robust tribal consultation process and specific revisions in the guiding designation criteria. Ultimately, if the BLM can reconsider ACECs as a priority and utilize existing geospatial data in the inventory process, they will realign their planning process with FLPMA’s intentions and be well-equipped to contribute to 30 by 30.



© Copyright 2022 Amy H. Katz