Public Lands Politics: Interest Group Influence on the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management

By Paul J. Culhane | Go to book overview

2
The Forest Service

The history of public lands management can be divided into six overlapping phases: acquisition, 1781 to 1867; disposal, 1812 to 1934; reservation, 1891 to 1934; initial or custodial management, 1905 to 1950; intensive management, 1950 to the present; and extensive preservation, 1964 to the present.1 The crucial shift in federal land policy occurred between 1891 and 1905, when the reservation and initial management phases began. The Forest Service, now the largest public lands agency in terms of budget and personnel, was established during this period and has been the leading agency in federal lands management ever since.


The Federal Lands

At one time or another, four-fifths of the land area of the United States has been in the public domain. Acquisition of legal title to the public domain began with the cession to the federal government by the original thirteen states (chiefly New York, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) of lands they claimed between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River (see table 2-1). Title to 42 percent of what is now the United States was purchased from European monarchies, with the largest acquisitions being the 1803

-41-

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