Colorado Bureau of Land Management Social Vulnerability Assessment

Shannon McNeeley, Corrie Knapp, Trevor Even, John Gioia, Julia Nave
Posted on: 7/18/2022 - Updated on: 8/10/2023

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As part of a broader effort to increase the ability of federal agencies to understand and adapt to changes in climate variability and hazard profiles, the Colorado Bureau of Land Management has commissioned an on-going research effort to gather and analyze information on the potential climate-related vulnerabilities of the numerous communities and businesses that rely upon the state’s 8.4 million acres of BLM-managed public lands. This report contains the initial findings of this project, and details work conducted between 2015 and 2017 centered around three main questions:

What efforts are currently underway within the Colorado BLM to address changes in climate and the climate vulnerabilities of public land users? 2. What are the characteristics of connections between public lands and communities across the state? 3. How are land-based livelihoods (such as ranching and recreational outfitting) that rely upon public land resources affected by changes in long-term weather patterns, extreme events, and associated BLM decision-making?

To answer these questions, we took a mixed-methods approach. To better understand existing work on climate change within the Colorado BLM, we extensively reviewed existing resource management plans, resource advisory council notes, and other policy documents. In order to establish a state-wide view of patterns of communities, their characteristics, and their connection to BLM-managed resources, we conducted a geospatial analysis of multiple publicly available socio-demographic and economic datasets, as well as numerous BLM field office records on usage patterns and intensity. Finally, we also conducted two in-depth, qualitative case studies in two field office management areas with well-known connections to public land resources.

Here, we used interviews with BLM staff, grazing permittees, recreational outfitters, and other business operators with ties to BLM-managed lands to better understand how climate hazards and shifts in seasonal weather patterns play out on the ground for public land users and the numerous communities across the state whose economies are closely linked to public land management policy. Throughout this process, we have aimed to compile and synthesize information that will allow field office managers and staff to ensure that future policies and management actions reflect the strengths, vulnerabilities, and needs of the diverse communities that rely upon public lands across the state.


McNeeley, S.M., Knapp, C., Even, T., Gioia, J., and Nave, J., 2017. Colorado Bureau of Land Management: Social Climate Vulnerability Assessment, Final Report. North Central Climate Science Center, Fort Collins, CO. Available at…

Affiliated Organizations

The BLM is responsible for managing the nation's public lands and resources in a combination of ways which best serve the needs of the American people. The BLM balances recreational, commercial, scientific and cultural interests and strives for long-term protection of renewable and nonrenewable resources, including range, timber, minerals, recreation, watershed, fish and wildlife, wilderness and natural, scenic, scientific and cultural values.


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