Division of Land Resources

The Division of Land Resources (DLR) advises the Department and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on legal issues relating to the BLM’s management of public lands.  The BLM administers approximately 10% of the land in the United States (primarily in the west) on behalf of all Americans.  The Division also provides legal assistance to the Department’s bureaus, including the BLM, National Park Service (NPS), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), regarding the cleanup of hazardous substances contaminating the Department’s lands. 

The Associate Solicitor for the Division of Land Resources is Aaron Moody. The general contact for DLR is 202-208-4393.

The Branch of Public Lands advises DOI and the BLM on the 245 million acres of public lands managed by the BLM. Unless otherwise provided by law, the BLM has a charge to manage public lands under the principles of multiple use and sustained yield, which means that the BLM strikes a balance among different and sometimes competing uses—which can include energy development, livestock grazing, timber harvest, outdoor recreation, and the conservation of natural, historic, and cultural resources—in a manner that maintains the productivity of the land and preserves renewable resources for use by future generations. Specific areas of responsibility for this branch include counseling the Department and the BLM concerning compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and providing legal advice concerning various public land management topics, including land use planning; wildlife; livestock grazing; wild horse and burro management; forestry; withdrawals; cadastral surveys; rights-of-way, including for solar, wind, and transmission projects; recreation; and the management of areas designated for conservation, including national monuments.  This branch provides legal expertise to help ensure that the BLM can properly carry out its mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations and assists the Department of Justice in defending BLM’s actions in court.

The Branch of Environmental Compliance and Response Branch works primarily with the BLM, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service to facilitate environmental cleanups of hazardous substances under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) on public lands, national parks, and wildlife refuges so that these important lands are made safe for the uses mandated by Congress and that the parties responsible for the contamination pay the bill. The branch also acts as counsel to the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance to develop Departmental policies for environmental compliance and cleanup and provide legal advice for the Central Hazardous Materials Fund (CHF), which funds cleanups on DOI-managed land. This branch is involved throughout the cleanup process, applying CERCLA and regulations that comprise the National Contingency Plan (NCP) to advise the Department and its bureaus as they identify potential contamination, conduct investigations and risk assessments, choose remedies, and ensure that the cleanups comply with a variety of important land management regulations. The branch also seeks to recover the costs of the cleanup from responsible parties by making polluters pay. With the branch’s assistance, the Department has recovered triple the funds that are spent on cleanups, allowing DOI to fund additional cleanups.

The Valley Forge National Park Asbestos Release Site is a great example of this branch’s work. The Valley Forge Asbestos Release Site is a 112-acre area located in the center of the Valley Forge National Historical Park. The area was contaminated by activities of an asbestos insulation manufacturing plant that formerly operated on the property. In 2017, the NPS completed a long-term remedial cleanup action to excavate contaminated soil and sediment so the site could be re-opened. The cleanup was funded in part by the State of Pennsylvania and in part by the United States. Now the park is back in business conserving and interpreting the land associated with the 1777-78 winter encampment of Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army.

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