Conformity, Capture, Multiple Clientelism, and Multiple Use
Public lands policy has traditionally been enmeshed in fundamental political process issues. From Gifford Pinchot and John Muir down to today's environmentalists, the most visible critics of public lands policies have complained that the federal lands are monopolized by consumptive user special interests. A second line of political process criticism has focused on the relative absence of efficiency and expertise in public lands management; as with today's anti-special interests critics, modern efficiency-expertise critics are the philosophical descendents of such early critics of public lands management as Pinchot and John Wesley Powell.
These two lines of political process criticism form the basis of the capture-conformity debate, the most important evaluative issue in public lands administration. The tone and substance of the capture-conformity debate were set largely in 1960, the year in which the major studies of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were published. Public lands politics has changed in several significant ways since 1960, but the tone of the debate has not. Before examining how public lands politics has changed, and the implications of those changes for evaluations of the public lands agencies, it is necessary to review the capture-conformity debate to show its relevance to the agencies' own historic aspirations and administrative evaluative criteria generally. While substantive debates about timber, grazing, preservation, and similar pol