Our Languishing Public Lands
Policy Review, No. 171, p. 45, February & March 2012
19 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2013 Last revised: 15 Apr 2013
Date Written: 2010
Public land management is often criticized today on many grounds. Economically, it lacks clear objectives and is highly inefficient. The workings of public land management are bureaucratic and cumbersome, weighed down by land use planning and other procedural rules that make a flexible and incremental approach of adaptive management impossible to achieve. The same political frustrations generally seen at the national level of U.S. government have specifically beset the public lands. Environmentally, the pursuit of ecosystem management has been afflicted by these same problems. Over the past 20 years, there has thus been growing discontent among many scholarly and other observers of the public land system. Drawing partly on the author’s long experience working in the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, this paper broadly surveys the state of public land management as of 2012, the many problems, and the wide demand for significant changes. It proposes a reorganization of the public lands, including substantial decentralization of management and ownership responsibilities.
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