Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Wednesday defended a proposed Bureau of Land Management rule that would make conservation an equivalent use of agency land to grazing, energy production, mining and recreation.

Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., told Haaland the new rule conflicts with the Taylor Grazing Act, the law that apportions land into grazing districts and regulates grazing. 

Haaland, in response, said the intention of the rule was just to put all the potential uses of land on "equal footing." She said the rule is currently under public comment and will be adjusted based on feedback. BLM manages 245 million acres.

"It’s not final yet. So we’ll get all those public comments in and be able to incorporate those," she siad. 

The proposed rule would allow the agency to issue conservation leases to individuals, businesses, nongovernmental organizations or tribal governments for up to 10 years to protect or restore habitats and ecosystems. Businesses, for example, could lease BLM land to offset their environmental impact on the private land they are developing.

Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

The rule also expands land-health standards, which are currently needed for only grazing, to apply to all land-use purposes.

Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of the Public Lands Council, which is affiliated with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, has raised concerns that conservation leases could be used to “rubber-stamp” the removal of grazing on some BLM land.

For more news, go to