BLM designates 120,000-acre conservation area in Idaho

Aug 24, 2023

Over 120,000 acres of rolling grasslands in southwest Idaho will be better conserved thanks to a new Bureau of Land Management Backcountry Conservation Area (BCA). The region is home to upland game bird species and serves as elk and mule deer habitat.

“The Bennett Hills are a bird hunting destination and an essential winter area for the famed King Hill mule deer hunt. It is worthy of protections that help wildlife and sportsmen,” said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation.

The Bennett Hills BCA is part of the BLM’s new Four Rivers Field Office Resource Management Plan. The plan sets guidance for the management of fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, and livestock, as well as renewable energy development, mining, and drilling across approximately 783,000 acres of public land in southwest Idaho. The plan also closes areas with low and no potential of oil and gas development to leasing.

Bennett Hills is the first BCA designated in Idaho. The BLM issued formal guidance in 2017 for the adoption of BCAs, which are intended to “support wildlife-dependent recreation and hunting activities” while still allowing grazing, drilling, and mining, according to the Four Rivers Field Office Resource Management Plan.

While the BCA designation allows for multiple land uses, it recognizes that “the highest value and use of this landscape is the habitat and the wildlife and the recreation and economy derived from those things,” Brooks told Boise State Public Radio. “So it’s sort of unique.”

Report highlights dirty legacy of mining in the West

Extractive industries have essentially worked under the same legal and regulatory framework for over 100 years, leading to pollution and the destruction of public lands, according to a new report from the Center for Western Priorities. The Sierra Nevada Ally spoke to CWP Policy Director Rachael Hamby about the report. Read the interview here.

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Quote of the day

With the results of this resource management plan really reflecting the voices of the folks who took part, I think it sends a message that it’s really important to continue to voice your concern… These are public lands and public agencies will respond to the public.”

—Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, Boise State Public Radio

Picture This

lightning at night at rocky mountain national park


Rain, thunderstorms, and lightning are in the forecast for Rocky Mountain National Park throughout the week.

When recreating, take time to be aware of your surroundings and know the most high-risk places to be compared to the safest locations when a storm rolls in. With lightning, there are no fully safe options when recreating in the outdoors.

If possible, shelter inside a vehicle or a building. If you are out on a hiking trail, the next best option is to get below tree line and shelter at the base of a cluster of low elevation trees or in a lower elevation ditch or gully.

Avoid these locations during a thunderstorm:
The top of a mountain peak
Exposed open slopes above tree line
Caves or rock outcroppings on the side of a mountain
Open water
The base of a single tall tree
The inside of a tent when camping in an exposed area

For more information and tips on lightning safety visit

Image Credit: NPS Photo


Feature image: Pronghorn drinking water in southwest Idaho; Thayne Tuason, Wikimedia