Bureau of Land Management announces policy to protect and restore fish habitat and connectivity

Trout Unlimited applauds new guidance from BLM to protect habitat connectivity


ARLINGTON, VA, Nov. 16, 2022 — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued direction for its state offices to coordinate with tribal nations and state wildlife agencies to assess and promote habitat connectivity for fish and wildlife habitat.

Trout Unlimited, along with our conservation partners, have been calling for this action in recent years as the conservation and recreational value of public lands increases. Ensuring that fish and wildlife habitat and connectivity have equal consideration as part of the agency’s multiple use mandate is critical to the management of these important American resources. We encourage the agency to move quickly to consultation with tribes and state wildlife agencies and capitalize on infrastructure funding opportunities for fish and wildlife.

Western BLM lands are multiple use, allowing for grazing, mining, and energy development. Additionally, BLM lands host some of the most important habitat for trout, sage grouse, mule deer, elk, pronghorn and hundreds of other species of fish and wildlife. Because BLM lands are open to the public, they offer unparalleled opportunity for anglers and hunters in the United States.

The updated policy specifies new language that the land management agency “Will manage existing fish and wildlife habitat with the goal of maintaining, improving, and/or conserving habitat connectivity and restoring degraded fish and wildlife habitat to provide for increased habitat connectivity.”

Nearly 75 percent of the remaining native trout habitat is on public lands managed by the BLM and Forest Service. The management of these public lands have a direct impact on the future of fishing, hunting and the outdoor recreation economy, which contributed $454 billion to the American economy in 2021. Trout Unlimited has a long history of working on reconnection and restoration projects on BLM lands. In Wyoming, the Muddy Creek project reconnected and restored important habitat for the last genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout in the Upper Green River Basin with investments totaling more than $1.5 million.

In Idaho in 2022, Trout Unlimited partnered with the BLM on an extensive evaluation of fish movement barriers related to over 400 road crossings of native trout streams in Idaho. Data from the study will help the agency prioritize projects that will best help connectivity and migration of trout throughout Idaho.   

“This is an important step forward in the management of our public lands. If we want to ensure that future generations of Americans can enjoy robust populations of fish and wildlife, we must manage our lands thoughtfully and collaboratively,” said Tasha Sorensen, Trout Unlimited’s Western Energy Director.


Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams so our children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Across the country, TU brings to bear local, regional, and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters and vibrant communities.