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This page last updated January 06, 2009

Public Rangeland Almanac

Genesis of Policy

"You are what you were when."
"Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it."

These two statements are particularly applicable to public lands policies, many of which have their roots in the Civil War Era and earlier - times when natural resources in North America were viewed as unlimited and population pressures were light. If we are to improve public lands policies, it is useful - perhaps essential - to know how our present policies evolved.  This section of the almanac provides links and onsite information that may assist in developing those insights, with emphasis on the public rangelands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

50 Years of Public Land Management, 1934 - 1984. Bureau of Land Management brochure (PDF - 30.3 MB) 
Taylor Grazing Act in Oregon, 1934-1984. Bureau of Land Management brochure. (PDF - 26 MB) (note: This little kiss-up publication had a cover embossed with real gold leaf. In addition, BLM installed a commemorative plaque in the field [see last page in file]. It is assumed that the State Director received a hefty performance bonus that year.)

Authority for the Bureau of Land Management to Consider Requests for Retiring Grazing Permits and Leases on Public Lands. DOI Solicitor's Opinion, Oct. 4, 2002

Permit Value: A Hidden Key to the Public Land Grazing Dispute. Billy Stern's 1998 M.S. Thesis ties together the dynamic history, politics and economics of the public land grazing issue

John Anschustegui v. Department of Agriculture. No. 99-35755. D.C. No. CV-97-0541-S-MHW. Filed July 17, 2001. Under 5 USC 558(b), the US Forest Service must allow a grazing permit holder to correct alleged permit violations before revoking the grazing permit.

U.S. Forest Service Historical Material

History of Grazing on Tonto   Presented by Senior Forest Ranger Fred W. Croxen, at the Tonto Grazing Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, November 4-5, 1926

The Property Rights Movement: References on the controversies surrounding the Forest Reserves, Grazing Rights, Sagebrush Rebellion, State and County Rights, and Wise Use, 1891 to present. compiled by Gerald W. Williams, Ph.D., National Historian, USDA Forest Service, Office of Communication, Washington, DC, Revision of April 19, 2000


Tragedy of the Commons  Web Page
Tragedy of the Commons   Illustration

     Tragedy of the Commons Interactive Game
     Interactive Prisoner's Dilemma

Establishing Management Under the Taylor Grazing Act.  Presented by F. R. Carpenter (first Director of the Grazing Service) at Montana State College, January 8, 1962.
Historical Interview  with Farrington R. Carpenter.  An interview with the first Director of the Grazing Service by the Bureau of Land Management, October 17, 1971.

THE GRAZING BULLETIN: Department of the Interior, Division of Grazing, March 1936

1945 Grazing Service Map of Western States Showing Grazing Districts established under Section 3 of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934.
Early History of the Taylor Grazing Act in Colorado
The Ramirez Decision: In 1985, United States District Court Judge Raul A. Ramirez rendered a decision that addresses many aspects of the statutory mandates, and their history, under which the Bureau of Land Management authorizes grazing on the public lands. That decision is transcribed in HTML here in its entirety. Note that this is not an official copy of this decision, nor is any warranty made as to the accuracy of the transcription.
Ruling on BLM's 1995 Grazing Regulations: United States Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit, No. 96-8083, Sept. 1, 1998
Ruling: Grazing Privileges NOT Private "Possessory" Property Rights.  Diamond Bar and Laney v. United States. United States Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit, No. 97-2140, Feb. 23, 1999
Legal Issues Related to Livestock Watering in Federal Grazing Districts. Congressional Research Service, August 30, 1994.
Problems with Consensus 1: Partnerships, Roundtables and Quincy-type groups are bad ideas that cannot resolve Environmental Conflicts. Consensus processes are powerful tools, but can artificially manufacture consent and agreements that ordinary political processes are unable to do.
Problems with Consensus 2: Straight talk about Gridlock, Consensus, "Intrusive" Government and "Win-Win". The array of partnerships supposedly designed to implement environmental laws are merely an effort by Government at every level to find ways to avoid enforcing statutes.
Problems with Consensus 3: Consensus, Partnerships and Roundtables. Is it Unimaginable to Enforce Federal Laws upon the Unwilling? Environmental laws are extremely difficult to enforce. The reasons for America's peculiar obsession with property rights.
Problems with Consensus 4: The Myth of "Win-Win. While negotiation and consensus will always be a necessary part of the human experience, the mere presence of conflict does not mean that seeking "win-win" solutions is either the preferred or the appropriate approach.
"Grandfathered" Grazing in Wilderness - how it came about.