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

By Paul J. Culhane | Go to book overview

3
The Bureau of Land Management

The modern Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was created by a 1946 reorganization, which combined the General Land Office (GLO) and the Grazing Service. While the BLM is one of the newer federal agencies, its organizational roots in the GLO go back almost to the beginning of the Republic, and its roots in the Grazing Service to the progressive conservation era. Because of controversies surrounding its predecessors, the BLM has retained an unfortunate--and currently inaccurate--image as the Forest Service's embarrassing stepsister.

From the days of the Confederation through the nineteenth century, the U.S. Treasury sold public lands to individual settlers and land speculators. In 1812 these functions were organized under the new General Land Office in the Department of the Treasury, and in 1849 the GLO was transferred to the newly created Department of the Interior. The GLO was responsible for the disposition of federal public lands during the heyday of land sales, grants, and homesteading.1 The first major land disposal policy, begun in 1804, involved selling tracts of land (usually 160 acres) to settlers at a price of, by 1820, $1.25 per acre, a substantial

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