Low Potential Energy Lands

More than 90 percent of BLM lands – our public lands – are available for leasing. But our analysis shows that only 23 percent have moderate to high potential for oil and gas development.

See the Maps

Facts and figures:


Percent of BLM lands open to leasing


Percent of BLM lands with moderate to high oil and gas potential

As part of TU’s efforts to balance coldwater conservation with responsible energy development, including land and water use associated with energy development, production, transmission and transportation we are working on efforts to curtail oil and gas leasing of low potential lands in the western U.S.

More than 90 percent of BLM lands are currently available for oil and gas leasing (See map on left). Outdated BLM policies encourage management decisions that prioritize oil and gas development, resulting in significant resource conflicts and inefficient use of agency resources.  For example, under the guidance, BLM will leave lands open for leasing when its own analysis shows there is low and no potential for oil and gas development on those acres. In the western U.S., only 23% of BLM lands are considered high to high/moderate potential for oil and gas.


Leaving lands with low or no development potential open for development drives speculative leasing, which can preclude other uses of those lands, like recreation and fish and wildlife conservation. Once leased, these lands are often not managed for other uses regardless of development status, which creates unnecessary public conflict. Moreover, understaffed and underfunded agencies must allocate limited resources to evaluate speculative lease sales, leaving fish and wildlife conservation with the short end of the stick


The Maps

Energy Assessment Mapping Applications

Trout Unlimited believes in upholding our approach to coldwater conservation, with an emphasis on protecting intact habitat, reconnecting fragmented fish habitat, restoring degraded habitat and at-risk native trout and salmon populations and building a powerful constituency for trout and trout habitat.  To maintain and enhance our goals of coldwater conservation, we encourage a balanced approach and upfront planning and management of energy development.

Our GIS spatial analysis energy assessment tool uses the best available science for Colorado, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and New Mexico.  The tool will function to help TU and others with decision-making to focus our efforts with the Forest Service and BLM that identify public lands that have low potential for oil and gas yet may threaten sensitive coldwater fisheries if leased and developed. For users, layers can be added, such as upcoming oil and gas lease sale parcels (that have available shapefiles) and used for decision-making based on important criteria including wildlife values, coldwater fisheries values, oil and gas potential, land ownership and others.