In 1946 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was formed to help protect some of the land and resources in the United States. The BLM manages approximately 245 million surface acres of some of the finest land available for public use.
With only around 10,000 employees, they’re a small force with a mighty big job. Most people don’t know much about this government agency and the important job they do for the country.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the Bureau of Land Management and the lands it manages. We’re sharing seven things we think you need to know about BLM land. Let’s get started!
What Is BLM Land?
BLM land is for public use. This land makes up approximately 12% of the landmass of the United States. The BLM headquarters is in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Much of the BLM land was once thought to be the “land nobody wanted.” Many people passed by these lands on their way westward across the country. However, these lands offer some of the best places for recreation and adventure.
The entirety of the land consists of 221 wilderness areas, 27 national monuments, and 636 protected areas that were a part of the National Landscape Conservation System, now known as National Conservation Lands. You can find over 2,400 miles of rivers and close to 6,000 miles of trails. The possibilities are practically endless when it comes to exploring these incredible lands.
Pro Tip: Want to go camping on BLM land? We uncovered how you can!
What Is the Purpose of BLM Land?
The BLM’s mission is “to sustain the land’s health, diversity, and productivity for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” However, this is public use land that does allow renewable energy development, conventional energy development, mining, timber harvesting, and outdoor recreation. However, the BLM does these activities in a way that promotes the longevity of the land.
Creating an environment for sustainable use of the land helps ensure future generations can enjoy the benefits of the land. All the activities conducted on these lands are to avoid stripping the land of its natural beauty and resources. Exploring and using these lands is a privilege that many Americans enjoy!
7 Things to Know About BLM Land
If you want to use the BLM land, there are some things you need to know first. We’ve found seven things we think you should know to enjoy BLM land.
1. Is BLM Federal or State?
The BLM is one of the agencies under the United States Department of Interior. The employees who work in this important government agency are federal employees.
However, when it comes to the use of the lands, there’s a cooperative partnership between the federal government and local authorities to help ensure the land is multi-use but cared for at the same time.
2. Where Is the Most BLM Land?
Most of the BLM land is in the western portion of the country. This region was one of the last parts of the land explored and settled in America.
The terrain didn’t make it easy for westward explorers to settle. However, the warmer weather and the generous amount of public-use BLM land are the primary reasons many RVers and others seeking adventures flock to it, especially in the winter months.
3. What States Have BLM Land?
A vast majority of BLM land is in 12 western states. You can easily find BLM land in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.
If you’ve spent any time in these states, you know they tend to be wide-open and offer a tremendous amount of space.
4. What Can Be Done on BLM Land?
Despite the land being in the west, it’s no longer the wild west. Using these public-use lands still requires users to follow the rules and restrictions. However, there are opportunities for hunting, hiking, off-highway driving, horseback riding, swimming, and so much more. If you enjoy outdoor recreation, BLM land is a playground waiting for you!
As long as you leave the land the way you found it, you’re likely not going to have any issues. Because every piece of land is unique, restrictions on use will also vary. The priority is to protect the land, which may mean restricting certain activities for certain periods to give the land a chance to heal.
5. What Does BLM Mean for Camping?
One of the ways many people love to enjoy these public-use lands is by camping. The BLM manages over 400 campgrounds. You’ll find a mixture of developed campgrounds and dispersed camping.
Fees for camping in developed campgrounds will vary from one location to the next, but they’re typically very budget-friendly. You can typically pay anywhere from $3 per night to $25 per night. Most camping in these lands will range from $10 to $15. Dispersed camping is often free but may require you to purchase a permit. When you have to buy a permit, they’re typically only a few dollars and allow you to camp for several days.
Stay restrictions will vary from one location to the next and the time of year. Dispersed camping will typically allow users to camp for 14 days in a 28-day period. However, some of the more popular areas for camping will have shorter stay limits during the peak season to ensure more guests can use the lands. You’ll need to move on your way once you’ve reached the state limit.
6. Is Boondocking on BLM Land Safe?
Boondocking on BLM land can often be just as safe as camping anywhere else. Whether you’re camping in an RV park or boondocking on BLM land, there’s no guarantee of safety. Many of these locations can be extremely remote. If there’s an emergency, it could take law enforcement quite some time to get to you. Depending on where you’re boondocking, it might not be possible.
However, there are some things you can do to help stay safe. Having a plan for protecting yourself while boondocking on BLM land is important.
You want to be aware of your surroundings and keep your stuff put away and locked while you’re not at your campsite. If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe when boondocking on BLM land, leave immediately. Even the best free campsite isn’t worth risking your safety.
Pro Tip: We took a closer look at Is Boondocking a Safe Camping Option to help you decide if it is the right choose for you.
7. Can I Get Free Land From the BLM?
While there was once claim-free land, it no longer exists. The government will release land from time to time, but it sells it at market value. So if you’re dreaming of snatching up a plot of land to build a homestead, you’ll have to pay for it.
Before you go buying one of these plots, it’s essential to know that they’re often very remote and in the middle of nowhere.
Most utility companies don’t service these parcels for electricity, water, or sewer. Some people can make it work for them, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
Is It Worth Camping on BLM Land?
Camping on BLM land can be an incredible adventure. Some of the campsites available for camping on BLM land are great places to sit in a camping chair and watch the landscapes. It can refresh your soul and ease the stresses and worries of life.
Camping reservations in established campgrounds are getting increasingly difficult, which means it can be even more tempting to give this type of camping a try.
Have you camped on BLM land? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
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As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
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