Although natural resource managers are concerned about climate change, many are unable to adequately incorporate climate change science into their adaptation strategies or management plans, and are not always aware of or do not always employ the most current scientific knowledge. One of the most prominent natural resource management agencies in the United States is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is tasked with managing over 248 million acres (>1 million km2) of public lands for multiple, often conflicting, uses. Climate change will affect the sustainability of many of these land uses and could further increase conflicts between them. As such, the purpose of our study was to determine the extent to which climate change will affect public land uses, and whether the BLM is managing for such predicted effects. To do so, we first conducted a systematic review of peer‐reviewed literature that discussed potential impacts of climate change on the multiple land uses the BLM manages in the Intermountain West, USA, and then expanded these results with a synthesis of projected vegetation changes. Finally, we conducted a content analysis of BLM Resource Management Plans in order to determine how climate change is explicitly addressed by BLM managers, and whether such plans reflect changes predicted by the scientific literature. We found that active resource use generally threatens intrinsic values such as conservation and ecosystem services on BLM land, and climate change is expected to exacerbate these threats in numerous ways. Additionally, our synthesis of vegetation modeling suggests substantial changes in vegetation due to climate change. However, BLM plans rarely referred to climate change explicitly and did not reflect the results of the literature review or vegetation model synthesis. Our results suggest there is a disconnect between management of BLM lands and the best available science on climate change. We recommend that the BLM actively integrates such research into on‐the‐ground management plans and activities, and that researchers studying the effects of climate change make a more robust effort to understand the practices and policies of public land management in order to effectively communicate the management significance of their findings.more » « less
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