Noncompetitive Leasing Impedes Effective Management for Wildlife, Conservation, Recreation on Public Lands

DENVER – A new report released by the National Wildlife Federation shows that  noncompetitive leasing wastes taxpayer dollars by selling leases that likely won’t ever be developed for energy production, but prevents land from being actively managed for wildlife, conservation or recreation. The report analyzed more than 1,000 noncompetitive leases in five Western states that were issued between 2012 and 2020 and found that two-thirds of the leases were on lands with little potential for oil and gas development but nearly a million acres of those lands were in sage grouse habitat and 300,000 acres were in big game winter habitat or migration corridors. 

“It’s time to end the practice of noncompetitive leasing, which allows our public lands to be sold for as little as $1.50 an acre and impedes efforts to actively manage our lands for conserving wildlife habitat and safeguarding drinking water supplies,” said Andrew Black, public lands field director at the National Wildlife Federation. “Our study shows that noncompetitively leased lands are rarely developed for oil and gas, which means that no revenue is generated and taxpayer money is wasted in administrative costs. It’s a matter of common sense and good governance to end this wasteful practice.”

“Noncompetitive leasing ties up important big game habitat and lands that could be used for expanded recreation that would benefit all Nevadans. Almost a million acres have been leased noncompetitively in Nevada – with more than half on lands that have little potential for energy development. One third of these leases overlap lands with wilderness characteristics and almost two-thirds overlap sage grouse habitat,” said Russell Kuhlman, executive director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation. “Thank you, Senator Rosen, for sponsoring legislation to this wasteful practice to better protect taxpayers and safeguard our public lands.”

“Forty-percent of all oil and gas leases are sold noncompetitively at rock bottom prices. Yet more than half of these leases in Colorado have almost no potential for energy development. The COMPETES Act, sponsored by Sen. Hickenlooper, would end these public lands giveaways so that our public lands can be better managed for the benefit our communities,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “Ending the practice of noncompetitive leasing will allow expanded opportunities for cleaner air and water, wildlife conservation, and outdoor recreation.” 



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