During the 1970s, land managers in the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) often must have felt they were victims of the old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times." The decade began with the first Earth Day, an event that revealed the increasing strength and militancy of the environmental movement; as it ended, western commercial users of the public lands, disaffected by environmentalist policymaking victories, had launched the "sagebrush rebellion." The conflicting pressures reflected in these movements are as old as the sagebrush itself. However, the 1970s presented land managers with an especially difficult set of problems. Those managers were expected to reconcile often sharply polarized interest group pressures with professional values, as well as with diverse federal statutes and regulations that reflected uneasy compromises among group and professional influences.
Political researchers, in contrast, consider themselves blessed by interesting times. It was this study's good fortune that the 1970s highlighted many of the subtle political tensions that had existed in public lands politics for decades. Although the technical specifics of public lands management differ from those in other fields of natural resources management, the political tensions in public lands policymaking are similar to those in other natural resources fields. Thus, this description of the Forest Service's