Bureau Of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an organization located in the Department of the Interior, within the government of the United States of America. Established officially in 1946 by merging the Grazing Service and the General Land Office, the Bureau became responsible for the management of public lands. At the time, there were over 2000 conflicting laws regarding public land management, and it was not until the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) that the Bureau had an official and unified legislative mandate. In the FLMPA, Congress recognized the value of public lands by declaring that these lands would remain in public ownership. Therefore, the Bureau is now responsible for managing 262 million acres of land and approximately 300 million additional acres of subsurface mineral resources located mostly in the Western United States and including Alaska. The Bureau is also responsible for the management of a variety of resources and uses such as energy and minerals, timber, forage, wild horse and burro populations, fish and wildlife habitat, wilderness areas, and archaeological, paleontological, historical, and other natural heritage values.

In Alaska, the BLM manages more public land than any other state—87 million acres. These lands are characterized by forested hills, small mountain ranges, and Arctic tundra. The most significant of these is, perhaps, the bureau-managed lands on Alaska's North Slope, because they are thought to contain significant oil and gas resources as well as 40% of the total coal resource potential in the United States. The largest adjoining area of public lands is found in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA), created in 1923 by President Warren Harding, and is made up of a 23-million-acre region on the North Slope.

The Bureau works with numerous other Federal and State agencies in the managing of public lands in Alaska. The four Alaska Public Lands Information Centers involve nine other Federal and State agencies in their development, management, and operation. Other groups, such as the public, constituent groups, indigenous organizations, and other agencies have become increasingly important to the Bureau in collaborative decision-making processes that affect the uses of public lands for those who rely on them. The greatest challenge for the organization today is negotiating more effective land management practices, such as conservation, recreation, and tourism, with the demands of resource development on public lands. The BLM commits itself, in its mission statement, to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Rachel Olson

Further Reading

Bureau of Land Management website: http://www. Bureau.gov

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