Proposed Solutions for Problems with the Federal Government's Management of Their Land

Proposed Solutions for Problems with the Federal Government's Management of Their Land

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The Federal Government owns nearly “30 percent” of the United States land mass- almost “650 million acres of land” (Paul, 2012). National parks, National Forests, and National Wildlife Refuges comprise the federally owned and managed public areas. These areas are managed by three main entities: “The National Park Service (NPS), The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)” (Edwards, 2012). The primary goal of these three agencies is to avoid the tragedy of the commons by preserving the natural resources on these lands, while still exhibiting economic growth based on them. Although, the Cato Institute study conducted in 2009 revealed shortcomings in the current managed plan. It showed overgrazed BLM lands, forest degradation, overpopulation, and limited natural succession due to fire suppression; in addition to their “yearly multi-million dollar deficits” since their revenues barely cover even “20 percent of their expenditures”(Moeller, 2002). Nearly everyone agrees there are issues with the way Federal Government lands are currently being managed; the discrepancy lies within the solution.
The terrain and resources of the United States are diverse and numerous, as should be the solution to this debate. A blanket solution should not be applied to all 650 million acres; what works for one park or refuge may not even address the ecological value of another. There are three reform approaches to land management, which should be considered to effectively avoid the tragedy of the commons. The first would be to privatize federal lands (either to individuals, conservation groups, or businesses). The second would be to transfer the lands to the state to be managed. Lastly, would be to transfer the lands to...


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...lue would fund the market trusts, while the non-market trusts would receive funds for things such as foundations or individuals. Rep. Peter DeFazio developed a concept of this type of management. He proposed allowing a trust organization to run western Oregon’s timberlands. He would divide the lands in two, with one half for timber and the other preserved. The timber half would still supply BLM’s timber receipts and maximize the revenues.
Since, the government controls nearly 30 percent of the United States landmass it is very important that it is managed effectively. A one size fits all solution will not solve the efficiencies with the current management techniques. In order to optimize revenue while preserving for future generations a combination of reforms, privatization, transfer of land to states, and the establishment of fiduciary trusts, should be considered.

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