This Week’s Report: Managing Public Lands

The federal government manages millions of acres of publicly owned land, much of it concentrated in the West. Not only is the acreage – forests, deserts, marshes and tundra – home to a fascinating array of wildlife and plants, it also contains valuable resources such as timber, gold, rangelands for livestock grazing, oil and natural gas.

As veteran environmental writer Jennifer Weeks explains in this week’s report, “Managing Public Lands,” some conservatives want less federal control and more local authority over public lands so the acreage can be put to multiple uses – not just by hikers and campers but by industry as well. Environmentalists, on the other hand, argue that the lands need more protection from development, not less.

“For decades,” Weeks writes, “policymakers, industry and environmental advocates have argued over how to strike the right balance on multiple-use lands. . . .How much should public natural resources be conserved, and how much should they be exploited?”

This is an especially timely report for classes in public administration, environmental science, civics, business and federal policy.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor