Sunday, July 28, 2013

Federal lands and conservation

Two recently posted articles on federal lands in the US West coauthored by Michael Blumm have strong historical components: "Federal Wild Lands Policy in the Twenty-First Century: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been", coauthored with Andrew Erickson, and "The Past as Prologue to the Present: Managing the Oregon and California Forest Lands", with Tim Wigington. According to the abstracts, the first
traces the evolution of federal wild lands policy from its beginnings in the 1920s to the enactment of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the Federal Land Management and Policy Act in 1976 to the longstanding dispute over the Forest Service's roadless rule to the present controversy over BLM wild lands policy
while the second
is a brief review of the convoluted history of what are known as the Oregon and California forest lands, federal lands that were once the subject of a 19th century federal railroad grant, then became the focus of widespread land fraud and official corruption, which led to the Supreme Court halting land sales and Congress taking back the lands, situated in eighteen Oregon counties. Federal management of the lands in the 20th century emphasized timber harvesting, and this dominant use of the lands led to environmental lawsuits and the Endangered Species Act listing of the northern spotted owl in the early 1990s. Since 1994, the lands have been governed by the Northwest Forest Plan, which drastically limited federal timber harvests and associated local county revenues, which were based on those harvests. Several counties in southern Oregon now face public service crises, as their local tax base is insufficient to provide emergency services like fire and police.

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