Watershed Restoration: Principles and Practices

Chapter 9: Changing Roles and Responsibilities for Federal Land Management Agencies

M. P. Dombeck, J. W. Thomas, and C. A. Wood

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569049.ch9

Approximately 30% of the land in the United States is collectively owned by its citizens. Four federal agencies are responsible for managing more than 90% of these lands—627 million acres. These agencies are the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (USBLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Together, the USBLM and USFS administer 461 million acres. Nearly all of the land managed by USBLM and much of the land managed by the USFS is in the western United States, a result of east-to-west settlement patterns and statehood negotiations.

The economic importance of these federally administered lands is significant. Each year, tens of millions of Americans use public lands for recreation— hunting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, camping, and cycling. Expenditures related to hunting, fishing, and wildlife recreation on USFS lands alone total US$12 billion annually (Fedler 1996). Extractive industries such as mining, ranching, timber production, and oil and gas development provide employment on these lands, supporting the economies of rural communities.