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

By Paul J. Culhane | Go to book overview

are." The author found this same pattern: stockmen and those in the forest products industry professed dedication to multiple use, including the wildlife, recreation, and resource protection norms of the multiple- use philosophy. Administrators recognized this rhetoric as a defensive reaction, but it proved useful nonetheless. More important, economic users modified their actions in response to environmental pressure on the agencies. Timber operators claimed they were trying to do a better job on logging sites, as one put it, "to save the sales program." Administrators of mining and O&G districts reported that their problems with unauthorized (and damaging) exploration were vastly diminished, that mining and oil and gas operators and landmen were "coming in to see us first." A ski area operator reported telling developers in a related venture to "do a nice job and you'll make lots of money--but they just won't listen." (They should have listened--they lost when they tried to tough it out against the Forest Service and environmentalists.) In short, the environmental threat caused users to anticipate reactions also, and to cooperate more with the agencies' resource protection policies.


Conclusion

It is not a simple, straightforward exercise to show that ranger district and resource area constituencies influence local Forest Service and BLM policies. At the lowest level of public lands management, interest group clients face a mixture of administrative and political motivations behind agency officials' actions. The result of that mixture is a very fundamental obfuscation of the political aspects of local officials' decision making.

The local rangers and area managers in the study were important decision makers. Within the bounds of agency policy and the commonly held beliefs of agency professionals,21 they appeared to have considerable de facto authority in matters of agency policy within their administrative units. Formal authority for agency decisions, however, was usually vested in their superiors, particularly forest supervisors and district managers. Rangers and managers of detached resource areas generally had greater latitude and authority than those BLM area managers stationed in the same offices as their district managers. And, as noted in chapter 7, rangers and area managers had a more visible impact on use administration restrictions in the second half of the decision cycle than on basic use allocations in the first half. But because their superiors tended to back up

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