Opinion: BLM’s public lands rule celebrates our heritage and future

Photo Courtesy of Native Voters Alliance NV

By Taylor Patterson

May 24, 2024

Since time immemorial, our people have called the Great Basin home. The lands, the mountains, the waters—they are not merely scenery; they are integral to our being. We are people of the land, woven into the fabric of these territories, connected to the very earth you tread upon.


Today, we celebrate a transformative moment—the realization of a future where the stewardship of these lands aligns with the respect and reverence they command. The Biden Administration, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has enacted the finalized Public Lands Rule, marking a historic victory for all who treasure the soil, water, and air of the American West and Alaska.


This rule acknowledges what we have always known: conservation, cultural protection, and sustainable access to nature are indispensable. By elevating these priorities to the same importance as industrial activities, this policy revitalizes our ancestral commitment to harmony with our environment.


In this crucial juncture, we embrace a pivotal shift that champions the integrity of our cherished lands. The finalized rule advances the health and resilience of ecosystems on public lands, promoting conservation through sustainable use. It ensures that our actions—restoration protection or use—are guided by robust scientific data and deep ecological understanding. This approach, which elevates Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and safeguards intact landscapes, marries modern policy with our ancestral wisdom. In doing so, it acknowledges that true stewardship transcends mere utilization, striving instead for a balance that honors and perpetuates the land’s inherent value for future generations.


The rule’s enactment, shaped by a transparent and inclusive public engagement process, reflects a collective endorsement of our longstanding values. With 92% of public comments in support, it embodies a unified vision for our public lands that respects our past and safeguards our future.


Our lands are our sustenance and sanctuary, supporting diverse ecosystems, fueling local economies, and nurturing countless species. They hold our stories, guard our secrets, and teach our children the traditions of those who walked before them. This rule is a commitment to protect these sacred responsibilities, ensuring our lands continue to be a source of life and legacy.


We extend our deepest gratitude to the leaders and policymakers who listened to our community’s voices and recognized the importance of this rule. Their commitment to fair and sustainable management represents a significant recognition of Indigenous leadership in environmental stewardship.


Now, as we look forward, the real work begins. Implementing this rule with the same vigor and passion as the advocacy that shaped it is essential. We must keep raising our voices, demanding accountability, and actively participating in the stewardship of our lands. This is our time to live the principles of the Public Lands Rule.


This rule marks not an end, but a vibrant new beginning—an era where the management of our lands mirrors the balance between use and preservation, ensuring they flourish for generations. Let us honor this historic achievement and advocate for a future where our public lands thrive, respecting the sacred bond between our people and the vast expanse of earth that is our heritage.


Together, we celebrate this victory for the land, our communities, and the generations to come. This is a tribute to resilience and unity, a testament to the idea that when we care for the land as our ancestors did, it reciprocates that care. Let’s embrace this new chapter with the same spirit and strength that have guided us for centuries.

  • Taylor Patterson

    Taylor Patterson, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, is the executive director of the Native Voters Alliance of Nevada (NVAN). She works tirelessly to improve voting accessibility for Native Americans, advocating for inclusive legislation and empowering Tribal Governments to secure voting rights.



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