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

By Paul J. Culhane | Go to book overview

5
Local Land Management / The Actors

Studies of administrative policymaking have invariably focused on national politics and decisions, perhaps because agencies' legal rule-making authority is vested in a department secretary or agency head and because the critical issues of agency policy are rarely resolved before reaching the Washington office. However, as explained in chapter 4, local administrators play a critical role in agency decision making. They influence their superiors by making initial recommendations on the whole range of specific resource plans and often have formal authority to allow or disallow uses. As the action arms of their agency, the people who deal with the agency's public on a day-to-day basis, local administrators are inevitably drawn into the politics of agency policymaking. Chapters 6 to 10 will examine the results of a field study of the local level politics of public land management. This chapter serves to introduce the participants in the study's sample of local public lands politics. It describes, in turn, the sample regions and administrative units studied and the administrators and interest groups involved in public lands policymaking in those regions.1

Some romantic and popular notions exist about local public lands management. Local land managers are commonly thought of as hardy officers who spend their days working in the woods or on the range; Forest Service officers refer to this as the "ranger-on-a-horse" image. The popular (espe-

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