Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands and National Forests Page: 4 of 18
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MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
" The BLM has begun or completed various actions to implement the Energy
Policy Act of 2005, including a final rule on fees for mineral document
processing, a final EIS on wind energy facilities on BLM lands, and a new
EIS on tar sands and oil shale leasing.
" On March 15, 2006, the House Resources Committee held a mark-up on
H.R. 4200, to improve research and expedite post-catastrophe forest
recovery activities (including timber salvage).
" The Administration has sent to Congress draft legislation to sell national
forest system lands, in furtherance of a proposal in the FY2007 budget
request for the Forest Service.
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and
the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture (USDA) manage 454 million acres
of land, two-thirds of the land owned by the federal government and one-fifth of the total
U.S. land area. The BLM manages 261.5 million acres of land, predominantly in the West.
The FS administers 192.5 million acres of federal land, also concentrated in the West.
The BLM and FS have similar management responsibilities for their lands, and many
key issues affect both agencies' lands. However, each agency also has unique emphases and
functions. For instance, most BLM lands are rangelands, and the BLM administers mineral
development on all federal lands. Most federal forests are managed by the FS, and only the
FS has a cooperative program to assist nonfederal landowners. Moreover, development of
the two agencies has differed, and historically they have focused on different issues.
History of the Bureau of Land Management
For the BLM, many of the issues traditionally center on the agency's responsibilities for
land disposal, range management (particularly grazing), and minerals development. These
three key functions were assumed by the BLM when it was created in 1946, by the merger
of the General Land Office (itself created in 1812) and the U.S. Grazing Service (created in
1934). The General Land Office had helped convey land to settlers and issued leases and
administered mining claims on the public lands, among other functions. The U.S. Grazing
Service had been established to manage the public lands best suited for livestock grazing
under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 (TGA, 43 U.S.C. 315, et seq.).
Congress frequently has debated how to manage federal lands, and whether to retain or
dispose of the remaining public lands. In 1976, Congress enacted the Federal Land Policy
and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. 1701, et seq.), sometimes called BLM's
Organic Act because it consolidated and articulated the agency's responsibilities. Among
other provisions, the law establishes a general national policy that the BLM-managed public
lands be retained in federal ownership, establishes management of the public lands based on
the principles of multiple use and sustained yield, and generally requires that the federal
government receive fair market value for the use of public lands and resources. BLM public
land management encompasses diverse uses, resources, and values, such as energy and
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Gorte, Ross W. & Vincent, Carol H. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands and National Forests, report, March 20, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc847706/m1/4/?q=%22public%20lands%22: accessed June 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.