The Story of BLM
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The 1960s

Transition from custodianship to action programs is part of the new dimension by which BLM is putting the public lands to work in the public interest.

—Stewart Udall
The Third Wave, 1966

The 1960s

The 1960s brought rapid growth and fundamental change to BLM—tumultuous change that permanently altered the Bureau's course. President Kennedy took notice of the public lands, saying they were vital to the nation's economic well-being but suffered from "uncontrolled use and a lack of proper management." The White House asked BLM to accelerate its inventory of the public lands and develop a program of balanced use to reconcile resource conflicts.


A fledgling multiple use philosophy within the Bureau was legally endorsed for the public lands in the Classification and Multiple Use Act (CMU Act) of 1964. BLM was reorganized to reflect new programs and authorities under this mandate: concerns for wildlife, recreation, soil, and water resources were integrated into traditional programs (range, forestry, lands, and minerals) through a land use planning process.

Inspired by the conservation accomplishments of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary Udall launched the nation's "Third Conservation Wave" by requesting a new legislative mandate for the public lands from Congress. Part of this agenda included formal recognition of multiple use management on BLM lands, patterned after the Forest Service's Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960. Other components centered on getting BLM a more flexible land sale authority and repealing outdated settlement acts.

The Third

But more than a push for legislation, the Third Conservation Wave was a philosophy—one that viewed natural resources as finite, interrelated, and vulnerable components of larger systems. According to Udall, the Interior Department had "the prime function of planning for the future of America and working to conserve the natural resources which sustain its life." The Department's 1961 Annual Report spoke of a "quiet crisis" facing America's citizens, the result of unplanned progress and explosive growth—something that threatened the nation's natural resources and its citizens' quality of life. Careful management of America's public lands could turn the tide, and this could only be done with extensive planning and involvement from the public.

Udall's program was only part of a growing national conservation movement. With more leisure time on their hands, urban Americans began to take notice of the public lands. Recreation groups and conservation organizations gained many new members in the 1960s and began to petition Congress for new parks, wilderness areas, and outdoor recreation facilities. While BLM was not as well known by the general public as were the National Park Service and the Forest Service (as evidenced by the omission of BLM lands from the Wilderness Act of 1964), the Bureau saw its local and regional constituents grow.

Citizen lobbies soon began to voice concern on protecting endangered wildlife and combating pollution. By the end of the decade, overall environmental quality emerged as a national issue. The Third Conservation Wave grew into a demand for action from Congress, the Interior Department, and BLM. According to natural resources professor Sally K. Fairfax, "resource issues have never been discussed with such emotional intensity as they were in the late 1960s and early 1970s."

Three Directors oversaw BLM's growth into a multiple use agency during the 1960s: Karl S. Landstrom (February 1961 - June 1963), Charles H. Stoddard (June 1963 - June 1966) and Boyd L. Rasmussen (June 1966 - June 1971). Landstrom supervised the drafting of Secretary Udall's legislative agenda and worked to reduce the Bureau's growing backlog of pending land applications. Stoddard began to implement the new legislation and reorganized the Bureau to more effectively manage its workload. To integrate all this activity on the ground, Stoddard started the development of a multiple use planning system on the public lands.


Boyd Rasmussen completed these tasks and introduced initiatives of his own. Land use classifications under the CMU Act were completed and a planning system was implemented in the field. Rasmussen worked to "depoliticize" BLM's decisionmaking process, giving the Department and Congress the task of deciding sensitive political issues, such as grazing fee formulas. In addition, Rasmussen directed BLM's early efforts toward obtaining a comprehensive management statute for the public lands—a goal eventually attained through passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.

Reflecting their increasing visibility, 167 million acres of BLM lands in the 11 western states were renamed the National Land Reserve, and after implementation of the CMU Act, National Resource Lands. At the end of the decade, BLM and Congress began to recognize unique values on the public lands and designate special management areas—natural areas, recreation lands, primitive areas, and national conservation areas—to protect areas identified in the classification process.

The National
Land Reserve

In 1963 Secretary Udall designated Resource Conservation Areas on BLM lands in each of the western states to demonstrate how active management of the public lands would provide benefits to all resources, including soil and water, forage (both wildlife and livestock), and forests. Director Stoddard said "we hope to acquaint every American with the thought that he is part owner of a great national treasure—which is becoming ever more valuable as our population grows." Secretary Udall urged conservationists to visit these areas and follow their progress through on-the-ground inspections and discussions at club meetings.

Resource Conservation

This explosion of activity in the 1960s led to a new land ethic, but it was not achieved without cost: controversies erupted and debates intensified as BLM advanced its multiple use mission. Reflecting America's growing concern for its public lands (and the Bureau's new mandates), BLM's workforce grew from about 2,600 in 1960 to 4,300 in 1970, with its budget growing from $36 million to $118 million. Revenues also grew—to over a billion dollars in 1969—thanks in large measure to increasing Outer Continental Shelf revenues.

Many of BLM's 300-plus million acres of public domain holdings in Alaska were destined for transfer to other federal agencies and the state, once Native claims to the land were settled. Controversy also broke out over allowable cuts for O&C forests, which wasn't resolved until the end of the decade. In the minerals arena, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lands, totalling 2 billion acres, witnessed great growth in drilling activity.


Under Karl Landstrom, BLM began to transform itself from an agency primarily processing land and mineral applications into an agency actively planning for the nation's future needs. The Bureau stepped up inventories of public land resources and invited the public to help decide how they should be managed.

The Bureau's state advisory boards and National Advisory Board Council (NABC) were reorganized in 1961 to broaden their representation by public land users. NABC's membership was increased from 30 to 42, with representatives added from conservation groups, county governments, forestry and mining interests, and the oil and gas industry.

BLM was reorganized the same year; service centers in Denver and Portland took over the functions of the Field Administrative Offices and provided scarce skills (e.g., botany, hydrology, cultural resource management) to the field. State Offices were strengthened, bringing BLM's work closer to interested land users and groups, plus state and local agencies. An Engineering Division was established in Washington to assist in road building and other field office construction activities.

Traditional programs continued to broaden their focus to a multiple use framework. Range activities, for example, moved from adjudication of grazing privileges to inventories of forage, soil, and watershed conditions. BLM State Offices began to hire wildlife biologists and outdoor recreation planners to implement new programs.

During the 1950s and 1960s, a new breed of employee entered BLM. He—or she—had college training in natural resource management, usually a degree, plus membership in a professional society (the Society for Range Management was founded in 1948; the Society of American Foresters was founded in 1900). They brought with them new educational backgrounds, new attitudes, and stronger multiple use philosophies—and soon clashed with old-timers from the GLO and the Grazing Service. George Turcott started his career with BLM as a range conservationist in 1950 and rose through the ranks to become Associate Director in the 1970s. According to Turcott, there was a strong "don't-rock-the-boat" philosophy in the Bureau in the '50s and early '60s. "We had all this [range] adjudication work to do and everybody was trying to find ways to do it without making anybody mad....We thought that there just had to be more to our jobs than this."

Employees: A
New Breed

by Ed Dettman
Chief, Division of Administrative Services, BLM Service Center

Two service centers, one in Portland, Oregon and one in Denver, Colorado, were established in 1963. They replaced Field Administrative Offices (FAOs) in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Portland. The service centers were premised on two fundamental principles to achieve economies of scale through centralization of administrative and technical equipment and personnel, and to provide an effective setting for scarce skills which could be utilized jointly by field offices and BLM's Washington Office.

The fundamental structure for both centers was the same, but external factors resulted in significant differences in staff sizes and assigned functions. For example, all financial processing functions (voucher audit, payroll, and payments) were centralized in Denver due to the Treasury Department's major disbursing office there. Likewise, the initial start-up costs for mainframe computing equipment and staffing dictated the formation of an Automated Data Processing organization in Denver without a full counterpart in Portland.

In 1973, the Portland Service Center functions were consolidated into the Denver Service Center. Based on cost efficiencies and other factors, the Records Improvement Project and the Western Field Office for reimbursable cadastral surveys for other agencies were left duty-stationed in Portland with management oversight and direction from Denver.

Throughout the 25 years of its existence, the role of the Service Center has been constantly changing and always controversial. Its sincerest critics highlight instances in which Service Center initiatives have lacked either the field offices' pragmatic sensitivity to political realities or the Washington Office's sense of policy integration and timing. Its sincerest advocates point to the unwavering connection between new skills, systems and technologies which have come into the Bureau at all levels and their genesis and support by Service Center personnel and initiatives. The Service Center concept, constantly adjusted to meet changing needs and priorities, has proven to be an enduring and essential element in the development of improved technical, administrative, and scientific support for public land management.

Like Turcott, many employees moved throughout the West and to Washington to build their careers. And like their predecessors, they recognized that the public lands had many values and uses. They saw the Forest Service attain multiple use management authority in the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, which recognized wood, water, forage, wildlife, and recreation as resource programs. At all levels of the organization, they wondered why BLM didn't have the same mandate.


Much of the pressure to review and modernize the nation's land laws came from a backlog of applications for agricultural entry that developed in the 1950s. In 1961, BLM implemented an 18-month moratorium on accepting any further applications so that it could reduce a backlog of more than 60,000 applications—some pending for more than four years. BLM needed to review its overall lands program and devise a better system for handling applications. To back this up, BLM documented what happened with applications under the Homestead and Desert Land Acts.

The 'Land Office business' has been very glamorous at times; sort of romantic at times; but hectic most of the time.

— Karl S. Landstrom

by Karl S. Landstrom

Karl S. Landstrom
Karl S. Landstrom (Jennifer Reese)

Editor's Note: Karl S. Landstrom entered government as a farm economist with the Department of Agriculture in 1937 and joined BLM in 1949. He has degrees in economics from the University of Oregon and in law from George Washington University. Landstrom was named BLM Director in 1961. In 1963 he became Secretary Udall's assistant for land utilization and later served as his representative to the Public Land Law Review Commission's Advisory Council.

I joined BLM's Portland regional office in 1949 as a land economist. In 1953 was transferred to Washington because I had declined to classify certain public lands in Idaho as proper for entry under the Desert Land Act—lands that were unsuitable agriculturally or that had questionable water supplies. I learned of my impending transfer two weeks before official notice from a commercial land locator operating in Idaho.

While I was in Washington I served as Chief of the Bureau's Branch of Land Classification in the Division of Land Planning. I drafted regulations and manuals, wrote case decisions. and testified on the Hill on pending lands legislation. I also developed a training program on land appraisal standards.

I left BLM in 1959 to become a legislative consultant to the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, where I worked until 1961. While there, I worked with Stewart Udall, who was a member of the Committee. During the change in administrations I applied to be Director of BLM through Mr. Udall. I understand that my appointment had been endorsed by Wayne Aspinall, Chairman of the Committee.

By January of 1961 BLM was beset with an intolerable backlog of land disposal applications. The backlog was an embarrassment to BLM employees who worked with the public and were criticized as though they, and not the land laws themselves, were the cause of the situation.

Under a general land reform program instituted under President Kennedy and Secretary Udall, the Bureau moved ahead with deliberate speed. Associate Director Harold Hochmuth and I took aggressive steps to remedy the situation, beginning with an 18-month moratorium in 1961-62 and continuing into a legislative campaign, later culminating in far-reaching reforms. Numerous drafts of proposed land law legislation were submitted by BLM through the Department to the Congress. The process had been set in motion leading to the establishment of the Public Land Law Review Commission in 1964.

Something also had to be done to curb widespread loss of public confidence in BLM, from both commercial and conservation interests. BLM was sharply criticized by both grazing users, who resented proposed cuts in grazing allotments, and wildlife interests, who demanded that overgrazing be eliminated. The morale of employees in the Bureau had suffered on account of these problems and an influx of top personnel from outside the agency during the preceding eight years.

As Director I took care to assure that most top-level personnel were selected from within BLM ranks. In addition, I worked to establish multiple use advisory boards that were more representative of our many constituents. After my first meeting with BLM's National Advisory Board Council, I recommended it be reorganized to reflect a more balanced viewpoint toward public land administration. Reorganization of the Council and the state-level boards was approved by the Department

The Vale project in Oregon gave new life to rangeland rehabilitation. It marked the beginning of a movement that proved highly beneficial in improving rangelands—and general relations between ranchers and BLM.

The project gained impetus in remarks I made at the end of a meeting BLM personnel had with people in Vale County, Oregon, including Congressman Al Ullman and Senator Wayne Morse. I said how much I would like to see efforts toward range rehabilitation expanded, such as increasing sagebrush removal and the planting of crested wheatgress. Senator Morse asked how much money it would take. I made a quick mental guess and said something like $15 million and three years. The formal estimate was not much different. The upshot was we got immediate funding for a pilot project in the Vale District. Other Senators soon got wind of this work and obtained funding for their own projects.

The 1961 reorganization eliminating regional offices established State Offices as the major second level of administration, supported by service centers in Portland and Denver. Another accomplishment was the decentralization of plat and tract book records from Washington, DC to the land offices, further saving costs and expediting service to the public. But to be very frank, this move was stimulated by Secretary Udall, who learned there used to be a gymnasium in the Interior building, which was now occupied by these voluminous records. He asked me to clear them out, which I did; thereafter BLM employees and others shot baskets and played volleyball as well as enjoying the gym's new sauna!

I found it relatively easy to reinstate a conservation-minded administration under Secretary Udall's "Third Conservation Wave," although there were a number of difficulties along the way. I found at times that members of the Secretariat were acutely sensitive to pressures from commercial groups, especially when voiced through members of Congress or their staffs.

After leaving the Bureau I worked as Assistant to the Secretary for Land Utilization and served as the Department's member of the Public Land Law Review Commission's Advisory Council. My greatest achievement, in cooperation with friends from the Forest Service, was preventing the substitution of 'dominant use' for 'multiple use' management on the public lands. In the 1960s there were members of Congress who felt that multiple use was merely a "meaningless jumble of words."

Ed Cliff of the Forest Service joined with me in defending multiple use, a professional concept going back to the first conservation wave under President Theodore Roosevelt. This effort culminated the work I began as Director to seek formal recognition of multiple use management for BLM lands.

Farming on arid western lands was a formidable challenge if one lacked a dependable water source. Only 14 percent of Homestead applications were being allowed by BLM and, of these, only about 50 percent went to patent and were transferred into private ownership after residency and land development requirements had been met. Only 17 percent of Desert Land Act applications were approved by BLM, and only 1 percent ever went to patent.

About 120 patents were issued annually during the 1950s for public lands in the lower 48 states. In Alaska, 150 patents were granted annually; in 65 years, only 3,200 patents were issued (totaling 400,000 acres, or 0.1 percent of Alaska's total land area) out of more than 10,000 claims.

A successful desert land entry depended on a reliable water supply. (BLM)

When BLM's moratorium was lifted, BLM implemented what Landstrom termed a "petition-classification system" that cut by more than half the time to process applications. Demands for public lands by communities and industries, however, continued to grow. The Recreation and Public Purposes Act limited most sales of lands to 640 acres. BLM needed more flexibility, plus a mandate to classify and manage its holdings.

In 1962 Assistant Secretary John Carver notified Congress that the nation's nonmineral public land laws were in need of modernization. BLM had shown that lands suitable for agriculture had already passed out of federal ownership. The Bureau also needed formal recognition of what it was beginning in earnest under Secretary Udall: multiple use management of the nation's public lands.

Three acts passed in 1964 as part of a legislative package arranged by Wayne Aspinall, Chairman of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. The Department got the Classification and Multiple Use Act plus the Public Land Sale Act, while Aspinall got approval for what he wanted, the Public Land Law Review Commission (PLLRC). As part of this deal, the Wilderness Act, which did not include BLM lands, was released from Aspinall's committee and passed both Houses.

Aspinall had become increasingly wary of the initiatives proposed by the Executive Branch—and disagreed with their direction. Wanting Congress to reassert what he felt was its traditional role in establishing land policy and supervising agency activities, Aspinall was successful in insisting that the CMU and Public Sale Acts be made temporary pending Congress' study of the public land laws.


The CMU Act became BLM's biggest challenge—and opportunity—of the decade. People in BLM, the Department, and Congress differed greatly over the act's interpretation and implementation. Central to this story were BLM's people: employees determined how BLM got its job done and how it emerged as a land management agency.

Though only a temporary authority, the CMU Act provided a definition of multiple use as the "combination of surface and subsurface resources of the public lands that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people." The act listed ten elements of multiple use, including wildlife, recreation, watershed, and range, and directed BLM to classify its lands for retention in federal ownership or disposal. But it did not specify how much land should be classified.

At the time it passed, no one in Congress (or BLM) thought the Bureau could inventory and classify the majority of its holdings in the 11 western states by the time the act was set to expire in 1968. But it did, classifying more than 175 million acres for retention in federal ownership under multiple use management (including 32 million acres in Alaska) and 3.4 million acres for disposal.

The CMU Act changed BLM forever: it would no longer classify lands on a case-by-case basis, evaluating petitions from land users. BLM now planned how all its lands and resources would be managed. The Bureau no longer managed its holdings along individual program lines; it integrated each activity into land use plans that would "best meet the present and future needs of the American people." To do this required involving the public in BLM's decisionmaking process.

Under Charles Stoddard, regulations for the CMU act were developed with public input and comment. Draft regulations were sent to interested individuals, organizations, state and local governments, and other federal agencies for review, and they were discussed at 65 public meetings throughout the country.


The final regulations, adopted in October 1965, incorporated many changes suggested by people outside BLM. As future events would confirm, this was only the beginning of public involvement for the Bureau.

The CMU Act required that BLM's classification activities be consistent with state and local government programs, plans, and zoning regulations. Proposed classifications were sent to state and local governments and planning commissions. Proposals for retention were sent to these entities as well as to public land users and BLM's multiple use advisory boards.

BLM classified lands by collecting and analyzing information on areas and their uses, and then contacted individuals, groups, and agencies for further information. Meetings were held to assess public attitudes and sentiments about retention or disposal actions. BLM then drafted a proposed classification, published it in the Federal Register, and held a public hearing. Only then were classifications made final, through publication in the Federal Register.

BLM met with the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the Council of State Governments to explain and implement the CMU program. As a result of these discussions, BLM decided to work with pilot counties in each western state to test the classification process. County governments developed planning and zoning regulations and the Bureau held an Urban and Rural Land Planning Conference in Reno, Nevada, to explain the act and to develop classification procedures.

Valley County, Montana, was the first successful test of the process. BLM's initial assumption that scattered lands would be classified for disposal was opposed by the public—many of these lands had scenic or recreational values or provided access to larger public land areas. Local groups urged BLM to focus its efforts on larger blocked areas under the CMU act, which BLM did. In 1966 BLM classified its first lands under the act: 614,000 acres for retention in multiple use management.

Another pilot project proved a formidable challenge: Clark County, Nevada had several jurisdictions with competing annexation programs. The CMU Act required that a single comprehensive plan be developed for the area. To reconcile their differences, groups within the county formed the Las Vegas Valley Planning Council, which eventually devised a plan for the county's 7 million acres.

During this process, a recreation committee, with involvement of local citizens, developed a plan for the Spring Mountain area, which was classified for retention and then designated by Secretary Udall in 1967 as the Red Rocks Recreation Lands—the first such designation made under the CMU Act.

White Rock Spring in Red Rocks Recreation Area (BLM)

Other classification efforts confirmed that the public favored retention of almost all the public lands in federal ownership—and this from almost all BLM user groups. Livestock operators, wildlife groups, and recreationists wanted continued use of the public lands, and only retention could provide this.

Because the CMU act was a temporary measure, BLM's first regulations provided that its classifications would expire at the time the act did. But in 1967 BLM convinced the Department that CMU classifications had long-term values and should be continued indefinitely.

In implementing BLM's large-scale classifications, Director Rasmussen convinced Secretary Udall to back the field's broad-brush approach, with the idea that classifying public lands in large areas decide their fate once and for all. Once this was done, it would be difficult to undo—and only Congress or the Secretary could do it—freeing BLM to manage its holdings under a multiple use mandate. In this way, BLM's National Resource Lands were established, in a manner somewhat analogous to the creation of a system of national forests.

by Irving Senzel

Editor's Note: Irving Senzel began his career with the General Land Office in 1939. In his more than 30-year career, Mr. Senzel held many positions. including Chief of the Division of Lands and Minerals Standards and Technology under Director Stoddard and Assistant Director for Lands and Minerals under Director Rasmussen. In these jobs he was responsible for overseeing implementation of the Classification and Multiple Use Act of 1964.

What role did I play in the CMU Act program? Well, I had nothing to do with drafting the law. That was done in the House Interior Committee. However, because of the Lands and Minerals positions I held (Division Chief and later Assistant Director), I became involved in its interpretation and implementation.

After the House enacted the bill, I was told not to propose any amendments; I initiated two letters to the Senate Interior Committee interpreting provisions of the bill that I thought were ambiguous. These letters later proved important to our defense of our program, particularly since they dealt in part with the question of segregating lands from locations under the mining laws. Our remarks were significant since the Senate passed the House bill without amendment.

In the implementation of the CMU Act, I had primary responsibility for the preparation of classification regulations, drafting of manual sections on public-participation procedures, and monitoring progress of the program. In this work, we were plowing new ground in active give-and-take with the public in the public lands areas. We were anxious to make sure that our field efforts were conducted in a fully professional, objective manner.

The field undertook program operations with enthusiasm. BLMers spent long hours, including evenings and weekends, in preparation, public meetings, discussions with State and local officials, show-me tours, and what not. All this soon resulted in a flow of classification orders for publication in the Federal Register. Our progress apparently took some people by surprise, for from the Hill and a couple of other places came demands that BLM stop its work under the Act.

In a Director's staff meeting called to discuss this development, I argued against acceding to this demand chiefly because (1) what we were doing was consistent with the directives of the law, (2) our interpretations, proposed regulations and criteria, and proposed field procedures were all exposed to detailed public and Congressional scrutiny before adoption, (3) the general public in the public-lands areas responded well to our operations, and (4) surrender without a fight would be a serious blow to field morale, which was then very high. Field personnel were doing a job they thought needed to be done.

We took the matter up with Secretary Udall, who then gave us the green light to continue with our work. The Hill was informed of this decision.

When the statutory period terminated, the field had completed classifications for more than 150 million acres, a remarkable achievement especially since the Bureau received no additional funding from the Act to do this pioneering work.

Proof of the public's support for retention of BLM lands in public ownership came in July 1968, when BLM proposed to classify 119,000 acres of lands in Pima and Pinal counties, Arizona, for disposal (along with 354,000 acres for retention). Objections from the public and user groups caused BLM to abandon the proposal; the acreage to be disposed eventually dropped to 6,600 acres.

Some in Congress—Wayne Aspinall in particular—strongly disagreed with BLM's approach, asserting that the agency was stretching its authority. A critical test of BLM's strategy came when Aspinall wanted to extend the Public Land Law Review Commission Act without the CMU Act. The Senate (Senator Jackson in particular) would not agree to this request and extended both acts until 1970.

While lands classified for retention were segregated from settlement laws, they were not precluded from mineral leasing or most mining activity. Less than 1 percent of the lands classified for retention were segregated from mining, and these were generally areas under 1,000 acres identified as valuable recreation areas, wildlife habitats, or cultural resource sites.

Once the public land tenure issue was decided, BLM was ready to recognize special values on the public lands and designate special management areas. According to Assistant Director Jerry O'Callaghan, "the classification [process] identified public values which could have been lost in a case-by-case classification." BLM's first primitive areas, Paria Canyon and Aravaipa Canyon, were created through BLM land classification actions in 1969, along with the Vermillion Cliffs Natural Area.

According to former Director Marion Clawson, the Classification and Multiple Use Act "gave the Bureau a psychological lift that has led to its taking the initiative more and more often." The act made public involvement and interagency cooperation a permanent part of public land management. By July 1968, 188 local government boards and commissions had reviewed proposed classifications. More than 15,000 local officials participated in CMU public meetings and hearings.


The Public Land Sale Act allowed BLM to sell tracts of land up to 5,120 acres "for the orderly growth and development of communities" after local zoning and planning had taken place. To implement the act, BLM District Managers met with local governments and planning commissions in ten test counties to develop cooperative procedures.

The Act required that lands be classified under the CMU Act before they could be sold. Lands were then appraised and sold at fair market value to state or local governments or high bids were taken at auction from private individuals, organizations, or corporations meeting the act's criteria.


Using the CMU Act as his authority, Charles Stoddard reorganized BLM in 1965 to integrate new programs. New divisions (wildlife, recreation, and watershed) were created in the Washington Office and the Bureau's line managers—State Directors and District Managers—were strengthened with new responsibilities to coordinate on-the-ground activities. Budget work and program evaluation were moved from BLM's program staffs and consolidated under the Assistant Director for Administration and the Division of Program Evaluation to further integrate and organize the Bureau's activities.

By this time, added workloads and management responsibilities in the field were making BLM District Offices too large for managers to have a working knowledge of everything that occurred in their districts. An organizational study of BLM in 1964 by Dr. George Shipman of the University of Washington recommended that BLM change its organizational structure and management systems to provide better service to public land users. Another major conclusion, according to former Colorado State Director Dale Andrus, was that "coordinated land use decisions had to be made at the grass-roots level."

Area Offices


by Charles H. Stoddard

The tired old emblem of user groups—the logger, cowboy, oil driller, and surveyor—produced a poor image, never had Bureau acceptance, and was too busy for reproduction. Accordingly, we held a contest in 1965 to develop a new emblem. The winning emblem features today's winding river, grassland, a conifer tree, and a mountain, snow-capped as a result of mountain climber Udall's suggestion.

BLM logos

Serving as a Management Analyst and Assistant Director in Washington in the 1960s, Andrus was responsible for much of the organizational work in creating BLM Resource Area Offices. According to Andrus, it was critical that the Bureau designate a single official to manage and be responsible for all BLM activities in a specific geographic area. These activities included land use planning, managing minerals and natural resources, processing lands cases, and providing information to the public. A general rule of thumb of three to four areas per district was set forth in the implementing instructions, according to Andrus. "Criteria used to identify Resource Area boundaries were kind and amount of workload, geographic barriers, political subdivisions, and watershed basins."

By 1965, several Bureau field offices had already followed Idaho's lead in establishing "Division Managers" within Districts, making them responsible for management of specific geographic areas—with the District Offices providing planning and program coordination, plus technical and administrative assistance. Resource Area Offices were officially recognized in July 1966 in BLM Manual Section 1213.37. Special project offices or unit offices in O&C Districts (e.g., Tillamook, Oregon) were already performing this function; in other locations (e.g., Durango and Meeker, Colorado) former District Offices were converted into detached Resource Area Offices during statewide reorganizations.


At the same time BLM was classifying its lands for retention in multiple use management or disposal to the private sector, the Public Land Law Review Commission was studying the nation's 3,000 land laws and federal management of the public domain to identify problems and recommend new policy, programs, and legislation. Its Chairman, Wayne Aspinall, had strong disagreements with BLM and the Department over how the Bureau was carrying out its responsibilities.

The Public Land Law Review Commission (PLLRC) was established mainly through the efforts of Wayne Aspinall. While Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and the Interior Department were introducing conservation related legislation to the Congress, Aspinall was trying to get Congress to rebuff these initiatives and establish federal land policy by itself. At the commission's first meeting, Aspinall was named chairman. Other members included six senators, six representatives, and six presidential appointees. An Advisory Council was formed with liaison officers from each of the land-managing agencies plus 25 members appointed by PLLRC to represent land users.

PLLRC commissioned studies on commodities and land uses, intergovernmental relations, regional and local land use patterns, government management of public lands, and historical development of public land laws. Its reports included studies of fish, wildlife, forage, and mineral resources; OCS lands; future demands for commodities; withdrawals and reservations; and virtually every other land management policy or activity BLM was involved in. Conservation groups and most of the public, however, were not involved in this process and ignored it, focusing their attention on wilderness debates, oil spills, and Alaska policies, plus passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other conservation legislation.

by Charles H. Stoddard

Charles Stoddard
Charles Stoddard (Jennifer Reese)

Editor's Note: Charles Stoddard worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and private research foundations, including Resources for the Future, and was director of Secretary Udall's Program Staff before serving as Director of BLM. He holds degrees in forestry and forest economics from the Universities of Wisconsin and Michigan.

During three years as Director, I oversaw major changes in organization structure, program direction, and land-use planning—changes that were designed to help BLM clarify its goals and evolve into today's multiple-use organization.

Prior to my arrival, BLM had Professor George Shipman of the University of Washington study the Bureau's organization structure and recommend improvements. He saw the BLM as divided, uncoordinated, and unilateral in structure, citing its case-by-case orientation, its custodial (as opposed to managerial) approach, and its lack of a mission or goal. He went on to say, "Unless you can spell out a goal, a set of objectives, I can't be of much value to you nor can I come up with any organizational recommendations. Organization must be tailored to mission."

I feel my major contribution as Director was to help define our problems so that we could set forth clear objectives, and tailor BLM's organization structure to carry out programs that would meet these objectives.

Following the analysis made by Professor Shipman, BLM went through a major Washington Office reorganization, going from a five-functional group structure (survey, minerals, lands, forestry, and range) to a basic staff and line structure. The line established was from Assistant Directors through the State Offices to the Districts. In addition, we replaced single purpose, case-by-case directives with coordinated instructions to field offices, amidst cries of protest from guardians of the status quo.

In lieu of a regional office set up, Service Centers were established in Denver and Portland to provide technical support to State and District offices. The Boise Interagency Fire Center was established in 1965.

Legislative Developments—Except for the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and the O&C Forestry Act of 1937, BLM was hemmed in by old disposal laws and special bills for relief of individual situations. This deadlock was broken by providing classification criteria in the new Classification and Multiple Use Act, which were applied to the lands prior to their retention or disposal. Because there would be impacts arising from changes in land use, we made certain that regulations provided a system of public meetings at the grass roots to institutionalize local participation in the land management decisionmaking process. This began a process for stabilizing the tenure of retained lands by the Public Land Law Review Commission and, ultimately, FLPMA.

Resource Management Programs—Resource project work varied considerably in the field. It was carried on without effective technical guidelines from Washington or State Offices and was carried out by user request rather than program need. For example, when BLM field staffs initiated soil and water conservation projects, many were installed off the contour—thus increasing erosion.

BLM's grazing management lacked modern range management techniques such as rotation grazing. I asked Dr. Glen Fulcher from the University of Nevada to head up our Range Staff. Fulcher brought in Gus Hormay, a Forest Service researcher who had developed a "rest-rotation" grazing system designed to bring about range reestablishment in over-grazed areas without reseeding. Enthusiasm for this new approach grew: when I left BLM an average of one rancher per District had a rotation plan under practice.

Management of the Bureau's forest land was subject to considerable pressure from user groups seeking regular increases in allowable cut limits. We curtailed excessive expansion of these sustained yield limits in several confrontations where the public interest was able to override local pressures.

Much of the Bureau's Soil and Moisture funds were allocated to range improvements—not to eroding lands nor to efforts to restore overgrazed lands. A special Frail Lands Study, undertaken in 1964 by Cyril Jensen and Clarence Forsling, identified about 45 million acres of public land on which accelerated erosion was taking place. Senator Hayden was instrumental in obtaining appropriations for BLM to begin genuine erosion control efforts.

Although the Bureau had authority for managing wildlife habitat under the Taylor Grazing Act, no active program was in operation nor were funds directed to this purpose. In 1964, Bob Smith (former Arizona Game and Fish Director) put wildlife on an equal footing with forestry and recreation. Al Day, former Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, examined the wildlife program and laid out plans for habitat improvement, location of wildlife managers in Districts with heaviest wildlife resources, and a variety of special projects.

Land Use Planning—Multiple use management plans had never been instituted in the Bureau because of its single-purpose approach (range, forestry, etc.). A workable planning system, the Unit Resource Analysis, was implemented after considerable testing in the field. URAs provided the Bureau's first means of integrating all project work and land use for a District into a management system.

Personnel Matters—Modern resource management requires not only technical expertise from many disciplines but also knowledge of social sciences and administrators who can blend all disciplines into a unified program. I sought to encourage "generalists" in the Bureau and to give them a separate ladder for advancement. Lacking any trained land use planners in BLM, I instituted a special program at the University of Wisconsin in regional planning.

Minority group employment in BLM lagged. This was partly because of inertia and a lack of people trained in the fields needed by BLM. I initiated efforts to recruit Native Americans in areas near BLM operations plus blacks from southern agricultural schools.

In my opinion the Bureau of Land Management has some of the best trained personnel available in government. I'm proud to have been associated with these fine employees and look back with pride on my years with the BLM. To assure a solid future, BLM must remain a land management agency—in place of its real estate disposal past.

In 1970 PLLRC released its report, "One Third of the Nation's Land." Reflecting Aspinall's sentiments, it asked Congress to establish policy on a variety of public land matters. The report recommended that all federal lands not specifically set aside by Congress, such as national forests and monuments, be made eligible for disposal—but in another section stated that the nation's policy of disposing the unappropriated public domain be reversed.

PLLRC also proposed merging the Forest Service and BLM into a Department of Natural Resources (a proposal soon taken up by Presidents Nixon and Carter). The commission recommended that Congress limit the exercise of Executive authority, especially on withdrawals, and called for Congress to determine revenues for consumptive uses of federal lands. PLLRC further recommended grants of federal funds to states and counties in lieu of taxes.

In these proposals, PLLRC proved prophetic: Congress soon began prescribing specific management techniques and standards to be followed by federal agencies, thus limiting their traditional discretion in management actions and policy implementation. But PLLRC's report, though voluminous, was often contradictory. Its recommendation to classify public lands for their "highest and best use" was seen as an endorsement of dominant use over multiple use on the public lands.

Life Magazine reported that the PLLRC report was written by people "who believe in the commodity approach...and consequently it gallops headlong in the wrong direction." Sports Illustrated said that Aspinall's commission recommended "accelerated exploitation and disposal of the lands" and that its recommendations were made "on the basis of little publicized hearings and highly secretive deliberations." Professor Paul Culhane reflected that "many of the commission's recommendations appeared to have little impact on federal policy, perhaps because they seemed too pro-industry and out of step with the times when released during the fervent early years of environmentalist activism. However, the PLLRC firmly asserted that the era of disposal of public lands was over."

Thus, while President Nixon proclaimed NEPA as heralding the start of an environmental decade in 1970, PLLRC "played to an empty theater" according to Dr. Sally Fairfax. But few others in Congress or elsewhere had examined public land issues. PLLRC's studies and recommendations were available when the public and Congress were ready to address public lands issues—which would be soon. PLLRC compiled a great deal of information and opened a discussion that continued through passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.


"If we are to maintain man's proper relationship with nature...we must broaden the role of resource planning in the management of our national affairs."

[DOI Annual Report - 1961]

Implementing multiple use management on the public lands required planning. And effective planning required that the public be involved in BLM's decisionmaking process. Once this was begun, there would be no turning back; the public took an increasing interest in BLM and increasingly did not agree with the agency's management.

The story of planning in the 1960s is the eventual development of Management Framework Plans (MFPs), integrating all of the Bureau's on-the-ground activities into a single effort. As a first step, the Bureau needed a way to develop land use plans independently of the applications it received. The Master Unit system was created in 1961 for BLM to decide on land tenure before reacting to specific land-use applications. Units of study (Master Units) were defined, information gathered, and the data analyzed to determine potential land uses. The Bureau then categorized its lands into title transfer projects, land management projects, and residual management areas where detailed land-use plans would not be appropriate.

In 1963, working with state agencies and county commissions, BLM developed a plan to coordinate Recreation and Public Purposes Act (R&PP) land transfers in the Las Vegas area and manage the remaining public lands. Citizen groups were involved on a recreation subcommittee while county commissions developed overall plans.

Once the CMU act passed, BLM Director Charles Stoddard created the Office of Program Evaluation in Washington to develop a multiple use planning process for the field. BLM's challenge was to devise a planning system that would incorporate individual activity plans (master unit, allotment management, and watershed plans) into more general area plans. The system had to be clearly understood by employees, constituents, and the public, and be standardized enough to ensure consistent results across the Bureau. It also needed to integrate the resource allocation techniques used by different programs.

Stoddard, originally from Wisconsin, knew of a successful land use planning system used in his state during the 1920s and 1930s. The system featured land classification and zoning procedures—plus participation and approval from the public before final decisions were reached—and served as a model for BLM's system. Nevertheless, implementation of a comprehensive planning system represented a major organizational change for the Bureau. Field managers needed to be convinced that a uniform, Bureauwide land use planning system was needed when they were used to doing these jobs in their own ways. Several attempts and many years were necessary to implement a workable system. To encourage the process, Stoddard began sending BLM managers to the University of Wisconsin for training in regional land use planning.

BLM's first step was to identify planning units and collect resource data. Unit Resource Analyses (URAs) were prepared to summarize resource inventory data collected in planning units. Social and economic data were also collected so that they could be considered when it came time to develop management alternatives.

But then what? More than a few field managers were apprehensive about a system that would require public involvement and identify management alternatives before BLM arrived at decisions. Why should BLM tip its hand to users and the public in the early stages of its decisionmaking process? In many districts, BLM would have enough controversy to handle once a final decision was made.

Finding a way for each program and the public to identify and advocate resource uses—and follow them through the process so that no potential was overlooked—was tricky. How would disagreements be resolved? How much would the public be involved in decisionmaking? BLM planners had a long way to go to convince BLM field offices that planning was a good and necessary thing—and that using the system to address and resolve differences among land users would save the Bureau from repeated headaches in the future.

An important step in getting MFPs off the ground was testing the process in the field and showing it would work. In 1968, Art Zimmerman, District Manager of the Montrose District in Colorado, asked to test the process to see if it could help resolve strong disagreements on resource allocations among the district's user groups. After this and further tests in Oregon and California proved successful, MFPs were ready to be implemented in the field.


According to Director Stoddard, "BLM's minerals activity could hardly be called a program" in the early 1960s. The Geological Survey classified minerals, approved exploration and mining plans, and monitored this activity, which "prevented BLM from giving effective direction to location, rate, and timing of mineral exploration and development."

Secretary Udall and BLM worked throughout the decade to develop a minerals policy, one that ensured optimum returns of revenue to the Treasury, resolved land use conflicts, and planned for adequate mineral reserves in the future. The Interior Department's Annual Report for 1962 had this to say about minerals: "In the past 30 years, this Nation has consumed more minerals than all the peoples of the world had previously used....That current demands are being met without difficulty is primarily due to the immense technical and exploratory efforts of the 1940s and early 1950s. But with national requirements constantly increasing, the present availability of raw materials will not continue unless prompt action is taken to look to the years ahead."

Before the mid-1940s, coal provided over half of America's energy needs. Oil and gas rapidly supplanted it as the nation's preferred fuel after World War II. However, interest in public coal reserves revived in the 1960s due to advances in coal utilization, processing, and transportation. Coal in the West was viewed as an important future energy source because of its low sulfur content—an important asset in reducing air pollution.


Half of the country's coal reserves occur west of the Mississippi River and the government owns 60 percent of it, or about a third of the nation's total. BLM was sitting on 75 million acres of federally owned coal. Major hydroelectric facilities had already been built and few new sites were available. Early warnings about declining oil and gas supplies were largely unheeded by the public. The Interior Department, however, readied itself for future demands for coal. Secretary Udall created the Office of Coal Research to complement the Bureau of Mines' research efforts.

Major U.S. coal fields

During the 40 years following passage of the General Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, GLO and BLM issued an average of only four coal leases a year. From 1960-69, that average increased to 31 per year. By 1971, 17 billion tons of federal coal were under lease, enough to satisfy America's coal needs for 25 years. Most of these leases, however, were speculative: 70 percent were not producing. Major development of coal came soon after, though, following the energy crisis of 1973.

Oil shale reserves were estimated to amount to 2 trillion barrels of petroleum, compared to onshore and offshore oil reserves of 300 to 500 billion barrels. The problem with developing oil shale, however, was the extreme heat (and expense) needed to process the shale.

Oil Shale

Secretary Udall appointed an Oil Shale Advisory Board to study the situation and recommend policy. Because the group had diverse points of view, an interim (but never final) report was released in 1965. The board agreed that knowledge of oil shale needed to be enhanced and that "the national interest is best served by the immediate commencement of oil shale development."

In 1967, Udall announced a tentative oil shale program to clear title to oil shale lands by withdrawing them from other forms of mineral entry, blocking up oil shale ownerships through an exchange program, issuing provisional development leases, and cooperating with industry to develop better processing methods. The program sought to encourage oil shale development, prevent speculation, promote good conservation, and bring money into the Treasury. In late 1968 a number of oil shale leases were opened to competitive bidding, but the offers were rejected by BLM as being too low.

The oil and gas leasing frenzy that characterized the late 1950s stabilized in the 1960s. Onshore fluid mineral revenues rose modestly, from $178 million in 1961 to $233 million in 1971.

Oil and Gas

Exploration continued throughout Alaska. By the middle of the decade, oil and gas accounted for 60 percent of Alaska's mineral output and brought in $19 million to the state treasury. By 1970, there were five oil fields on the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet area and nine natural gas fields.

Offshore oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico (BLM)

The biggest oil strike was at Prudhoe Bay by Atlantic Richfield in 1968. Alaska estimated that revenues to the state could run as much as $1 million a day—which they eventually did. What was needed was a pipeline to get the oil out of Alaska. In 1969, ARCO, Humble, and British Petroleum announced plans to build a pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, stretching 800 miles across the state and costing $900 million. In June the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System—later the Alyeska Pipeline Company—filed a right-of-way application with BLM, with plans to start construction in the spring of 1970. These plans were contingent on settling Native claims and were ultimately affected by the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Revenues from the Outer Continental Shelf lands grew dramatically in the 60s, from $442 million in 1961 to $1.1 billion in 1971. Development of this resource occurred from the humblest of beginnings in 1959, when only $3.4 million was collected.

OCS Lands

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Mineral Leasing Statistics 1961-1970
Gulf Coast West Coast Total Production
Natural Gas
(1,000 cu. ft.)
(million bbl)
19614581.93 298.148.5
19628513.74 354.565.5
19638263.59 57.31473.687.7
19648243.50 57.31526.2107.4
19657973.40 135.76621.7122.5
19667923.29 116.65645.6145.0
19678703.67 84.471,007.4188.7
19688153.41 85.441,187.2221.9
19699393.94 77.401,524.2269.0
19709313.93 70.361,954.5312.9

In 1963 BLM opened an OCS leasing office in Los Angeles and held its first lease sale on the West Coast, bringing in $12.8 million for 58 tracts. But most offshore action remained on the Gulf Coast. In 1963, OCS oil production off the Louisiana coast represented 27 percent of total federal oil production, while gas represented 37 percent. By 1967 more than 4 million acres of OCS lands were leased by BLM, but this total represented less than 1 percent of OCS lands with ocean depths of less than 600 feet.


The two biggest issues for Alaska in the 60s were the selection of statehood grant lands and settlement of land claims made by Alaska Natives. Alaska handled its state selections through its Division of Lands. The Division's first chief was ex-BLM employee Roscoe Bell, who had been Associate Director and then Regional Administrator in Portland under Marion Clawson.

Bell's plan was to select lands that would further the economic development of the state. Four million acres were selected a year, or as he put it, "an area the size of Rhode Island every two months," so that all 103 million acres due the state would be selected in the 25 years allowed by Congress.

Alaska's selections during this period were characterized by state officials as "small but carefully calculated." In 1964, the state selected lands at Prudhoe Bay that it thought had oil and gas potential. How right they were!

To help the state select land, BLM received additional funding for its surveys. Only 1 percent of the state was surveyed under the Public Land Survey System by the time Alaska was granted statehood. The Bureau therefore concentrated its efforts on surveying state selections, planning to survey 4 million acres a year to match Bell's selection schedule.

Alaska's sheer size required that new survey techniques be developed. Electronic distance measuring devices were used in the field; helicopters marked section corners and transported survey crews throughout the state.

Problems immediately arose with the program, however. The state refused BLM's request to select large areas forming "logical topographic-geographic-economic units." Alaska interpreted its right to select "reasonably compact tracts" in its statehood act as being 5,760 acres—a quarter township. With involvement of Alaska's congressional delegation and Assistant Secretary John Carver, the issue was resolved in the state's favor.

Alaska's biggest problem proved to be the claims of its Natives. The U.S. had not recognized aboriginal title for Alaska Natives, who consist of Eskimos, Aleuts, and Indians, as it did for Indians in the lower 48 states. Instead, in 1906 Congress passed the Native Allotment Act, which allotted each Indian and Eskimo 160 acres of nonmineral public land but made no reference to Aleuts. Because the law had no provision for passing title, the "allotments" were nothing more than perpetual reservations. Provisions for patent weren't made until 1956; by 1962, only 101 allotments had been made under the act.

Beginning as early as 1950, Alaska Natives petitioned to have lands restored to them. In June 1963, BLM stopped processing state selections in areas specifically protested by Natives until Congress could act on their claims. By 1966, Alaska Natives claimed some 230 million acres of land.

Secretary Udall initiated an informal freeze that stopped approvals on all state selections. Alaska then took Udall to court. Facing an adverse ruling in December 1968, Udall formally withdrew 260 million acres of public land from appropriation, asking Congress to resolve the situation. Because Native claims were also delaying selection of a route for the Alaska pipeline, Congress enacted the the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971.


by Roscoe E. Bell
Former Director of Alaska Division of State Lands

I had worked for BLM in Alaska in the mid-1950s. When I returned to Alaska as State Director of Lands, my acquaintance with Alaska and with BLM personnel was very helpful, and very important, and I just wanted to compliment the BLM personnel in Alaska. They leaned over backwards to help us get started in the State selection process. Of course, they trained some of the people that we hired away from them, but it was a tremendous help to have a cooperative government agency to work with.

BLM personnel had been very influential in the draft of the Alaska Land Act of 1959. Through them we got a really effective land act for Alaska. They recognized the problems with the grants made to early states and wanted to avoid the same happening to Alaska.

When it came to processing land selections, BLM was very cooperative. When the State wanted lands in areas withdrawn from selection, BLM did everything they could to jar loose revocation orders to lift withdrawals so we could select the land and proceed with leasing.

We set up our land records system along BLM lines so we could coordinate land records, surveys, land selections, timber management, and fire protection with the Bureau.

We had very good cooperation from BLM for protection of the lands during the transition stage. At times, we'd make a selection and get tentative approval of the selection. This gave the State management authority of the land but we wouldn't get patent until the survey was made and finally filed, which took 3 years or more. BLM gave us free forest protection for the period between selection and patent so we could go ahead and manage. Alaska had very little money at that time and we needed fire protection of our future lands.

In the details of the land survey program, we had quite a knock-down, drag-out argument with BLM Director Karl Landstrom, but we had BLM support in Alaska. Under the Statehood Act, Alaska could make selections of a certain minimum size and BLM would survey the exterior boundaries of those selections. Well, Landstrom wanted us to make larger selections, to minimize BLM's surveying job. Now, the State of Alaska did not have any money to pay for the survey of smaller selections. I wanted to get the maximum amount of surveys from BLM, so we made our selections in a pattern of half-townships, which were twice as large as the minimum size required. By this method, we would get a pattern of survey corner monumentations that would give us a basic survey net over land we'd selected. We went to the mat with Karl. But with prodding from our Congressional delegation and others, we got Assistant Secretary John Carver to go long with our idea.

There were many other places where we could have gotten bound up forever in trying to work out problems. But as one BLM man in Anchorage said, "why quibble over details, after all, we're Alaskans too, and we are as anxious as you to see Alaska statehood work." It was a good relationship, and I was real proud of the relationship and spirit of cooperation we had with BLM.

Under State Director Burt Silcock, BLM Alaska classified over 32 million acres of land in the state for retention under the Classification and Multiple Use Act. An additional 38 million acres of lands were proposed for classification at the time the act expired, but most of the areas were included in Secretary Udall's Public Land Orders withdrawing them from appropriation.


Continuing a post-World War II trend, more and more Americans had more leisure time. They were better educated and more aware of the nation's public land resources. In hearings throughout the nation, the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC) identified recreational opportunities on federal lands, including BLM holdings. The public was beginning to see that BLM lands offered long seasons of use and considerable variety.

In 1961, BLM's Oregon State Office issued a recreation handbook containing policy, planning, site design, development, and maintenance criteria. The Bureau hired its first landscape architects in the field that year and gave them recreation assignments. State Offices began to hire full-time recreation specialists.

The Public Works Acceleration Act of 1962 provided federal assistance to areas hard hit by recession and provided the Bureau its first major funding for recreation site development ($1.9 million), mainly for campgrounds and picnic sites. In New Mexico, picnic sites, trails, and campgrounds were built at the Rio Grande Gorge in the Taos Resource Area.

When the ORRRC's final report was issued in 1962, a logjam of pending legislation was introduced in Congress, including the Outdoor Recreation Cooperation Act, the National Wilderness Act, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. Secretary Udall created the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation that year to coordinate federal, state, and local recreation planning and to provide grants to states that drew up outdoor recreation plans.

In 1963 a Bureauwide recreation inventory was begun to identify recreation sites, areas, and complexes, with this information being passed along to the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. While most of this work was site-oriented, several trails were identified. In its 1965 report, "Trails for America," the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation identified over 3,600 miles of trails on public lands and noted BLM's proposal to add 5,000 miles of new or rebuilt trails.

In 1964 the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act authorized funds for the development of state and local parks and expanded federal land acquisition programs for recreation—including acquisitions for BLM recreation areas. Funds were raised from taxes on recreational equipment, user fees in recreation areas, and general appropriations. Amendments to the act in 1968 provided a broader financial base and direct appropriations from OCS revenues to achieve an annual minimum of $200 million. In 10 years this base was increased to $900 million.

by Ralph M. Conrad
Natural Resource Specialist, Division of Lands

Large and frequently successful programs often have small innocent beginnings. BLM's beginning in off-road vehicle management, as I recall, is a case in point. Some of the dates are fuzzy with the passage of time, but the players and circumstances are well remembered.

It all started in 1967 in a remote desert canyon in Arizona. The initial players, a group of Girl Scouts and their leader, a Phoenix newspaper man (Don Dedera), were still in their sleeping bags in the early light of dawn. As later reported by Mr. Dedera in the Arizona Republic, an annoying mosquito buzz steadily grew into a roar as two motorcycles bore down on the sleeping-bag-encumbered Girl Scout troop. Mr. Dedera successfully removed himself from his sleeping bag and flagged down the second biker. Upon being asked what was going on, the biker reportedly said, "If you think this is something, wait until this afternoon—we have a race coming through here." When asked who authorized the race the reply was, "No one—these are public lands." Orren Beaty, then Four Corners Commissioner, clipped the Dedera column and forwarded it to Secretary Udall with a short note asking if something could be done about uncontrolled motor vehicle use in the desert. The Secretary bucked the Dedera column and Beaty note to Director Rasmussen with the added instructions: "Do something."

The Secretary's instructions filtered down through the BLM Directorate to the Chief of the Recreation Staff (Eldon Holmes). The Bureau's outdoor recreation program was in its infancy; most of its funding was derived from BLM's lands program. There was no policy or regulatory base upon which to justify a program. Draft regulations to establish the outdoor recreation program had been developed by the time the Secretary's instructions arrived but were having little success getting through the surname process. Therefore, since ORV regulation had the support of the Secretary, it was decided to interweave the ORV regulations into the draft outdoor recreation regulations and kill two regulatory birds with one stone. This would respond to the Secretary's specific instructions while establishing the needed regulatory base for the Bureau's outdoor recreation program.

Even with Secretarial backing, the regulatory package had limited success. The Democratic Administration lost the election in November 1968. A new administration would take its place on January 20, 1969. By mid-January, last minute programs of the outgoing administration were being finalized. At about that time, word was received that the Secretary was still interested in ORV regulations. Over the next several evenings Assistant Director Eugene Zumwalt, Eleanor Schwartz, Eldon Holmes and I burned the midnight oil finalizing the regulation package. In the late evening of January 16, 1969, Assistant Director Zumwalt hand carried the regulatory package to Secretary Udall for signature. The regulations were effective upon publication in the Federal Register on January 18, 1969.

Shortly after publication of the regulations, Bill Leavell (Program Staff) requested a briefing on the intent of the ORV portion. When asked why, he explained that he was being reassigned to California and that State Director Russ Penny wanted to get on top of ORV management in the California desert. The result of their work was the establishment of the Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Council in 1969 and the initiation of management of ORV use on the public lands.

by J. Russell Penny
California State Director—Retired

I became California State Director in May 1966. Shortly thereafter I toured its five districts to become informed of their major problems. The Riverside District Manager informed me of an upcoming motorcycle race. Although he had never seen one, he understood it would involve several hundred motorcycles (there turned out to be 600) racing over many miles of federal and private lands without any authorization. I requested that he have the race observed and pictures taken.

The pictures proved to be a shocking portrayal of soil and vegetative destruction. Moreover, many of these races were occurring along with individual use of all kinds of recreational vehicles. I suddenly realized that heavily populated California presented a new dimension in public land management: "people management."

I presented the motorcycle pictures to Director Boyd Rassmussen at a State Directors meeting with a request for the National Park Service to assist BLM in conducting a study of the recreational uses and resources in what became known as the Southern California Desert.

The Park Service's participation was especially significant to provide credibility to the study. The California Desert, released in November 1968, primarily identified recreational resources and uses of the desert (e.g., over 2 million visitor-use days annually) and made some conceptual management suggestions. An important one was the identification of 19 areas having significant recreational values that were proposed to be classified for retention in public ownership and comprehensive management plans developed. It was further recommended that departmental policies be strengthened to recognize recreational values. A BLM Ranger Force and a system of way stations were proposed to assist in the recreational program. The report also recommended a program be developed ensuring full public participation in planning for the future of the area and that a comprehensive plan covering all aspects of the California Desert be developed.

Phase II of the study, The California Desert—a Critical Environmental Challenge, was completed in January 1970. It expanded the study to include all uses and resources, and envisioned taking 5 years to complete a long-range management plan. To protect and maintain important resources during this critical period, the immediate implementation of an "Interim Management Program" was recommended. This was to be implemented in part by the establishment of a uniformed ranger protection and maintenance operation.

I was struck with the similarity of the situation that existed in the California Desert and that of the public domain when I came to work for the Division of Grazing in 1937. The users were antagonistic. There was little pertinent knowledge of the recreational resources, uses, or management needs of the public lands, nor were there pertinent rules, regulations and laws for administration. Borrowing from the highly successful advisory board system of BLM's past I organized and appointed the "Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Council (OR VAC)" in June 1969. It consisted of 15 members made up of representatives of user groups and of city, county, state, and federal agencies. An early principle developed was that "off-road vehicle use of BLM lands was a legitimate use but it must be a managed use."

The California Desert embraced over 16 million acres then administered out of the Riverside and Bakersfield District Offices. We concluded that while the Interim Management Programs should be the responsibilities of the District Offices, the planning program was to be for the California Desert as a whole under the direction of a Planning Director stationed at Riverside and reporting directly to the California State Director. In 1971 funds and personnel were provided for the California Desert Planning Program.

The Interim Management Program consisted primarily of confining ORV use to designated areas. A policy was formulated to confine ORV use to areas of past heavy use and to prevent encroachment on other areas until after the comprehensive plan was developed.

Motorcycle races were originally authorized by letters of authorization with little opposition. This procedure was soon declared unlawful, however, and special land use permits were thereafter required. This included restricting the course so as to best protect the resources, monitoring the races, and charging fees. Rules and regulations had to be developed from scratch. The ORV groups, especially the motorcycle groups, were defiant. Soon five lawsuits were filed in the federal courts by the motorcycle groups contesting the BLM's legal authority. The BLM actions were upheld in every instance.

At this time there was very little interest in the California Desert by environmental groups. At my request, the local representative of the Sierra Club was solicited by the Riverside District Manager to intervene in the BLM's behalf in the pending lawsuits. They did. Thereafter the environmental groups became increasingly active.

The BLM was performing these activities without additional funding or staffing. As a result District personnel were contributing many hours of their own time to get the job done, especially in monitoring motorcycle races on weekends. In 1972 Environmental Impact Statements or Assessments were required for all Special Use Permits. This resulted in the denial of some ORV events with much negative reaction.

Several supportive articles appeared nationally, however, in Reader's Digest, Time, and National Wildlife Magazine. Extensive tours and meetings were held. In 1972 Secretary Morton, at a ceremony in the Imperial Sand Dunes, dedicated the 19 areas (totalling 2.7 million acres) identified in Phase I of the study as National Recreation Lands. Later in the day Secretary Morton led a "Town Hall" meeting regarding the California Desert before a packed house at El Centro, California. There was a spirited exchange of ideas. Morton expressed his support of the California Desert. Some of his statements set forth important policy.

In 1972 a contractual study was made setting forth the funding and manpower needs required to administer the California Desert. In 1973 limited funding and manpower was earmarked for the California Desert Program, including the hiring of six Desert Rangers and construction of the Barstow way station, which was dedicated in 1974.

During this time BLM was without legal authority to enforce federal regulations. Action had to be requested of the local law enforcement agencies. Congress became aware of the importance and needs of the California Desert and incorporated its concerns into the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. A full-blown management and planning program for the California Desert was now required by law, with funding and manpower assured.

But it was the Classification and Multiple Use Act that gave recreation its official status as a Bureau program; recreation was identified as a value public lands would be managed for, thus providing a basis for congressional appropriations.

Recreational visits to public lands more than tripled from 1963-68, increasing to 30 million. BLM's first regular funding for recreation ($700,000) was appropriated in 1965. Nine of ten recreation facilities on the public lands in 1968 were built after 1963. Recognizing recreation's significance, Director Boyd Rasmussen said that BLM lands "are now being used more for recreation than for any other purpose."

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 established a national system of wild, scenic, and recreational rivers which were to be authorized by Congress or designated by the states. The Rogue River in Oregon and the Rio Grande in New Mexico (including quarter-mile-wide strips of land on each side) were two of eight rivers passing through BLM lands to receive this designation. The act established a river study process, identified 27 rivers for further study, and outlined requirements for their management and protection. Land and Water Conservation Fund monies were used to purchase scenic easements on more than 2,000 acres of private lands along the Rogue River.

The National Trails System Act of 1968, as amended, authorized the designation of scenic trails by Congress and recreational trails by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior. Two scenic trails, the Appalachian and Pacific Crest, were designated in the act, which also placed 14 trails in a study category and prohibited motorized vehicles on National Scenic Trails. The act was amended by the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978, which added a National Historic Trail category and designated five historic trails, all of which involved BLM—the Mormon Pioneer, Continental Divide, Lewis and Clark, Pacific Crest, and Iditarod trails.


Passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 1966 did not immediately influence BLM until regulations for the act were finally adopted in 1974. The Denver Service Center, however, added an archaeologist to its staff. The act created the National Register of Historic Places to list significant historic and archaeological properties, defined as "any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object," and established an Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to advise agencies on preservation matters.

Section 106 of the act required agencies to account for the effects of their undertakings on National Register properties and directed the Advisory Council to supervise a consultation process dealing with impacts of federal activities on National Register properties or potential properties. These provisions served as a model for NEPA—the ideas of an independent advisory council, a consultation process, and a review of federal actions would be seen again, and though discounted at first, would have major impacts on federal agencies.

While no specific policy or guidance existed on paleontological resources, BLM's interest in them was growing. The Act of September 28, 1962, which addressed the disposal of a variety of mineral and vegetative materials, contained provisions for the management, sale, and use of petrified wood. Regulations for the free use of these materials, including petrified wood, on the public lands were issued by BLM in 1964.

In 1965, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry was designated a National Natural Landmark. BLM began to manage the quarry as a recreational site in 1966 and opened a visitor center there in 1968. Como Bluff, Wyoming, the site of a world-famous late Jurassic dinosaur quarry, was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1966. In addition to these formal actions, individual employees conducted paleontological surveys and mitigation projects as time and other duties allowed.


BLM's range program mirrored the Bureau's rapid evolution and change. Adjudication of grazing privileges and production of forage were no longer primary goals, only components of multiple use management. In the mid-60s, Allotment Management Plans (AMPs) were developed, in which BLM and livestock operators jointly set goals for forage (both livestock and wildlife), soil stabilization, and recreation use by the public. The range resource would be managed intensively, with rest-rotation grazing systems, deferred grazing, and/or full-year grazing, with adjustments in livestock numbers (expressed in animal unit months) to bring about improvements in range condition.

AMPs were developed for single allotments as specific plans to be implemented under more general land use plans. Initially criticized by the livestock industry, the Bureau met with operators and groups to explain the program and incorporate their concerns in the process. But, reflecting the rise in interest from new groups (and their different perspectives), BLM next found its plans criticized by conservationists. Finding a middle ground that included good resource management techniques was to become the Bureau's challenge of the future.

AMPs were prepared jointly by permittees and BLM range conservationists, who toured the rancher's allotment to set goals for improving forage. Data on soil, forage, and economic conditions were used by the Bureau in writing a proposed AMP. The range employee then discussed the plan with the rancher, making changes both felt advisable. The AMP was then implemented and reviewed annually to monitor progress in meeting allotment objectives.

Bureau employees have worked with generations of public land users to develop land use plans that ensure the sustained productivity of BLM rangelands. (BLM)

The Vale Project marked a significant departure for BLM's range program—a shift away from mostly managing livestock numbers to managing the range itself. In addition to implementing new grazing systems, brush control, and water developments, BLM experimented with the introduction of normative grasses and the use of herbicides to improve rangeland forage. Lands were also exchanged to create better management units.

Vale Project

BLM initiated programs to combat soil erosion, protect watersheds, and improve forage for both livestock and wildlife. Ranchers in the Vale District contributed labor to help build many of the range improvements (including 72,000 miles of fence, 1,600 water developments and 460 miles of water pipelines) and agreed to use new grazing systems on their allotments.

Congress provided $10 million over 11 years for the project, beginning in 1963. Brush was controlled on 506,000 acres, and 267,000 acres were reseeded (including 58,000 acres of winter habitat for mule deer). AUMs in the District increased from 285,000 in 1962 to 438,000 in 1975.

Because brush control and reseeding covered only 8 percent of the total land area, most of the increases resulted from use of rest-rotation and deferred grazing systems. Projects patterned after the Vale Project spread to Beowawe (Nevada), Big Horn (Wyoming), Owyhee (Idaho), and Rio Puerco (New Mexico) but were not funded to the extent the Vale Project was.

In 1962, Secretary Udall informed BLM's National Advisory Board Council and permittees that grazing fees were under review and that pressure from Congress and the Executive Branch was mounting to increase fees. The Department proposed to change the factor used in the 1958 livestock price formula from 100 percent to 150 percent.

Grazing Fees

by Max Lieurance
District Manager, Vale, Oregon: Wyoming State Office—Retired

The Vale Project came about in 1962 after years of controversy and frustration over the dilemma of depleted rangelands. Then a political "window" opened, resulting in unprecedented support for necessary appropriations by two influential members of the Oregon Congressional Delegation, Senator Wayne Morse and Congressman Al Ullman. Authorization for the project offered the first real opportunity for the Bureau of Land Management to break through into full management of the rangeland ecosystem. It was also an opportunity to gain needed public confidence and the attention and respect of peer resource management agencies and institutions.

Max Lieurance (left), pilot, and Congressman Al Ullman prepare to tour rehabilitation project. (BLM)

Prior to 1962, the Vale District was working through the so-called "adjudication of grazing privileges" which in nearly every situation produced inventory data indicating insufficient available livestock forage for existing licensed use. The inventories were extensive and the funding capability of BLM was such that it was virtually impossible to explore improved management alternatives which would deal with improving the rangeland ecosystem to any practical degree. The result was years of litigation over grazing reductions which, by themselves, would solve few problems; the waste of resources in endless legal controversy; the inability of BLM managers to apply their technical skills because of limited personnel and funding for support projects; and, most important, the rangeland resource continued to deteriorate while political battles raged.

The Vale project, then, was offered as a solution. A plan was prepared by the Vale district staff which basically said "give me the resources to work with and I can turn the program around in short order (originally seven years). The potential is there, the technical knowledge is there, the competent people are available in BLM, the livestock users and other interest groups such as wildlife and conservation organizations are more than willing to cooperate." The support in Congress by the Oregon delegation was the key to funding and the project was launched in 1962.

The project effort concentrated on management of the vegetation resource for both its consumptive use by livestock and wildlife and its non-consumptive needs for cover for a myriad of wildlife species, soil stability, and water quality enhancement. The project was watched closely (even nervously by some) over a period of years and to everyone's relief (even surprise) has been judged a resounding success. Independent technical evaluations in 1975 and again in 1985 have confirmed its success.

The project has received international recognition as a model of large-scale rangeland rehabilitation through intensive management coupled with facilitating improvement. Its continuing value for demonstration and education remains virtually untapped.

Hearings were held throughout the West by the Senate Public Land Subcommittee under Senator Alan Bible of Nevada. Karl Landstrom overheard a person testify that "nothing delights the heart of a Nevada cowpoke more than to smell the hide of a BLM director roasting over a sagebrush fire." Despite strong opposition from ranchers, the Secretary adopted the 150 percent factor in 1963, which continued until a new grazing fee formula was developed in 1968. During this period grazing fees on BLM lands increased from 19 cents to 33 cents per AUM.

BLM Grazing Fees
YearsAnimal Unit Month Fee

Grazing revenues 1961-1970

Critics of BLM and Forest Service range programs continued to assert that the government was not receiving fair market value for grazing on the public lands. In 1966, the BLM and Forest Service contracted with the Department of Agriculture's Statistical Reporting Service to collect and study data on all aspects of the livestock industry to estimate fair market grazing values on public lands. The "Western Livestock Grazing Survey" included the mailing of 14,000 questionnaires, plus 10,000 personal interviews, to gather its data.

In 1968 an interagency grazing fee technical committee met to analyze the information. The committee needed to determine if there was any statistical difference between grazing costs on Forest Service and BLM lands and if there was any basis for a variable fee. The differences, adjusted for seasons of use and other uses made of the lands, proved insignificant. The committee set an average fair market value of grazing at $1.23 per AUM for both agencies and recommended that this amount be adopted as a fee for both cattle and sheep.

Lawsuits against the proposed increases failed, but Congress decided against implementing such large increases in one fell swoop. Because grazing fees were then 33 cents per AUM for BLM lands and 72 cents for Forest Service lands, Congress authorized the increased fees to be phased in over a 10-year period (9 cents a year for BLM and 7.2 cents for the Forest Service).


BLM continued to look at fire as one of the principal enemies of the nation's range, forest, and watershed resources. Under Karl Landstrom, fire training for BLM employees increased. BLM recognized that it had insufficient ground detection facilities; construction of fire lookouts became a priority in some parts of the West. In others, BLM began assigning "per diem fire guards" in advance of the fire season. Fire detection flights were made after lightning storms or during fire danger periods in many BLM districts.

As for its firefighters, BLM liked small mobile crews. BLM relied more and more on helicopters to transport crews and drop borate/water mixtures on fires. A Bureauwide firefighting build-up was prompted by the 1961 fire season. Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Montana all faced serious fires in July and August. A shortage of crews caused intense competition for fire personnel; the National Guard was called to assist with transportation and other nonfire duties.

In 1964 lightning near Elko, Nevada started several fires: soon 300,000 acres were aflame. BLM resources were inadequate, so the District Manager asked for help through cooperative firefighting agreements with the Forest Service and the state. More than 2,500 firefighters, 64 aircraft, and 280 vehicles poured in from other states. A temporary coordinating and dispatch center, the Western Fire Coordinating Center, was established in Salt Lake City on August 18.

After the 1964 fire season, BLM strengthened its firefighting capabilities by establishing the Great Basin Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, on April 1, 1965—a permanent version of the earlier coordination center. Roger Robinson, former chief of the Alaska fire organization, was put in charge.

Robinson wanted to integrate BLM's firefighting efforts on a national level by making the Great Basin Fire Center a national communications, dispatch, and support center. The center's value to the Bureau was soon demonstrated. In 1967 more than 5,000 fires broke out in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. BLM coordinated deployments of as many as 7,000 firefighters on the line, prompting Secretary Udall to praise the advantages of interagency cooperation in controlling forest and range fires. The Forest Service joined BLM at the center in 1969 when it moved into new facilities and was renamed the Boise Interagency Fire Center.

Public lands burned 1961-1970

BLM firefighters on break from West Fork fire, Taylor Highway, Alaska 1966 (BLM)

by Jack Wilson
Director, Boise Interagency Fire Center

The basic idea for a centralized fire support center came from several sources. Probably the first was in a Boise National Forest study by Deputy Regional Forester William D. Hurst in early 1961. The Honeywell task force in April 1964 proposed a fire center similar to Alaska's: a single fire program and center for the West. What really forced the issue were two events. First the Forest Service and BLM in Boise each established retardant plant operations on the same airfield; second, large fires were occurring in BLM's Elko (Nevada) District. The need for coordination and cooperation became painfully apparent.

On April 1, 1965, the Great Basin Fire Center was authorized by BLM at Boise, Idaho, and Roger R. Robinson, State Director of Alaska was sworn in as its first Director.

Initially the Boise National Forest attached their Fire Control Officer to the center along with their fire warehouse personnel. Subsequently the Fire Weather Forecaster of the National Weather Bureau joined the group. These original players drafted the first agreement for operating the center in 1969 when the first buildings were dedicated. There was understandably a lot of controversy and turf fighting, but in 1972 the first overall agreement was signed, assigning responsibility to the fire center. The Boise National Forest moved their smokejumpers there, and BLM began building its staff. At this time, the name was changed to the Boise Interagency Fire Center (BIFC).

In 1973, the Forest Service elevated its posture to the national level with the assignment of their Assistant Director for Suppression, Bob Bjornsen, to BIFC. Bob Robinson had retired, and the new BLM Director, Jack Wilson, was assigned. An era of cooperation was ushered in. In 1974 the National Park Service assigned John Bowdler to Boise as a partner at BIFC. In late 1975, with the passage of legislation that updated the old Clark-McNary Fire protection laws, the mission of the center became nationwide. The so-called State and Private Forestry Law authorized states to request fire support from federal sources.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was added to the agencies who are BIFC partners in June of 1977. The Fish and Wildlife Service joined the center in October 1979.

The Office of Aircraft Services (OAS), an organization of the Department of the Interior, was created in 1973, and their first Director, James W. Thurston, wanted to establish his headquarters at Boise because of the closeness of fire/aviation relationships. So, as of 1974, OAS has resided at BIFC and shared the costs. The Forest Service moved their aviation coordination and support unit to Boise in 1975.

The first experience with International Fire support came in the summer of 1976 when the provinces of Ontario and Quebec had extreme fire seasons. This led to a joint Diplomatic Exchange Agreement that authorized mutual fire support, and the agreement has been used by both countries many times since it was signed in 1982.


BLM stepped up its hiring of foresters in the early 1960s to manage public domain forests and woodlands outside Oregon and Alaska, including 5 million acres capable of producing timber in commercial quantities. Ponderosa and lodgepole pine forests in Colorado and Wyoming were made available to lumber companies when they shut down operations on Forest Service lands in the winter.

BLM's management of the O&C lands was sorely tested in the 1960s. Cataclysmic storms, fires, and floods challenged the Bureau's ability to respond. Allowable cut limits were manipulated to respond to these situations and to the region's economic conditions, but were finally stabilized in 1970.

O&C Lands:
In Search of

BLM sold over a billion board feet of timber from the O&C lands for the first time in 1960, taking in $34 million. Under Secretary Udall, BLM began a study of its forest holdings and their management. The review was interrupted by a recession that dropped timber prices from $32 to $25 per thousand board feet; in 1962 BLM raised the allowable cut for O&C lands to 1,127 million board feet.

But then came the Columbus Day storm: in one day 5 billion board feet of prime timber was blown down in Washington and Oregon; 1.5 billion board feet of timber on the O&C lands was killed or damaged. Congress authorized emergency road construction while BLM and the Forest Service developed a plan to salvage the timber by May 1964. BLM conferred with federal, state, and local governments and timber companies to adjust the terms and tenures of previously issued contracts to facilitate the process.

This massive, historic effort was completed on schedule, but in December 1964, BLM had to deal with floods that damaged access to $20 million of O&C timber. Congress responded with $14.8 million for emergency road repairs.

In August 1966, BLM had to cope with the Oxbow fire in the Coos Bay District. The fire burned over 43,000 acres of Douglas fir forest and cost BLM $900,000 (75,000 work hours) to put out. BLM offered 180 million board feet of timber for salvage by July 1967; the increase in sales for the Smith River Management Unit amounted to 330 percent, but all timber was harvested by the end of 1969.

Once Secretary Udall approved BLM's increase in allowable cuts, he asked Assistant Secretary John Carver to continue BLM's review of O&C policies. While this took place, Congress passed the Point Reyes National Seashore Act in 1962, which authorized exchanges of private lands inside the park boundary for BLM lands in adjacent states to consolidate National Park Service holdings. Alfred Sweet owned land inside Point Reyes and was willing to trade it for 2,360 acres of BLM forest lands in Curry County, Oregon. A similar swap in California fell through in 1961, because of disagreements among BLM and Park Service land appraisers on the values of lands to be exchanged.

Sweet Swap

In 1964 Charles Stoddard asked Oregon State Director Russ Getty to compile a list of non-O&C public domain lands in western Oregon (totaling 240,000 acres in small tracts) that could be used for exchange. Getty responded by listing almost all public domain lands in western Oregon for retention because, starting in 1961, they were included in BLM's calculations of allowable cut. BLM's Washington Office then identified several tracts for potential exchange with Mr. Sweet.

When word of this proposal became known, a nationwide controversy erupted which forced its cancellation. Legislators, the timber industry, and the Sierra Club objected to the "Sweet Swap" as a raid on O&C lands, while other groups supported the exchange as a good example of blocking up federal holdings. The upshot of this episode, however, is that both Stoddard and Getty lost their jobs (they declined to accept new positions), and Secretary Udall suspended all other Park Service-BLM exchanges.

Despite this incident, BLM continued its review of O&C forest management and concluded that its productivity must be balanced with environmental quality. Of BLM's total O&C holdings, 108,000 acres were found to have unstable soils and another 100,000 acres comprised valuable watersheds with soils that could be damaged by timber harvesting. BLM therefore proposed to separate these lands, plus 72 recreation sites and 172 potential sites from the O&C allowable cut base, along with 50,000 acres comprising valuable natural areas or wildlife habitats.

BLM also wanted to modify harvest techniques on 150,000 acres, create 380 miles of roadside corridors, and protect 3,000 acres in scenic areas. Under Boyd L. Rasmussen, BLM proposed new timber management techniques that included genetic improvement and reforestation for problem areas. BLM implemented this plan in 1970, after President Nixon directed both Interior and Agriculture to incorporate productivity and environmental quality in new timber plans. The new O&C management plan reduced allowable cuts from 1,323 to 1,172 million board feet and stabilized them at that level. Oregon State Director Archie Craft and his Chief of Resources, Murl Storms, met with the public and industry groups to explain the program and assure them of the its long-term benefits.

Timber revenues 1961-1970


The treatment of wild horses and burros on the public lands emerged as a major national issue in the 1960s. By the end of the decade, BLM received more mail about horses than all other topics combined. Accurate or not, wild horses and burros came to be seen as a national legacy, running wild and free in the West since the Spanish first visited the area. The fact that most animals were released from failed homesteads in the 1920s and 1930s didn't matter. BLM employees arguing this point or stressing the need to manage horse and burro populations against the needs of wildlife and cattle on the range were seen as proof of BLM's bias in favor of livestock grazing.

by Larry L. Woodard New Mexico State Director

Coastal winds in the timber-growing country of western Oregon are regular occurrences. O&C foresters tend to ignore such happenings until limbs start falling (time to pack up and leave) or when your tin hat blows off (run like hell!). However, winds of typhoon or cyclone level are very rare and until October 12, 1962, the patchwork clearcuts of the Oregon coastal areas and Cascades had not experienced such winds for over 100 years. Instead of the winds blowing fiercely over the tops of unbroken verdant forests, the clearcutting of western Oregon offered a thousand unprotected flanks of shallow-rooted conifers to the "Big Blow" of 1962.

Meteorologists later described the sudden low pressure trough which moved ashore on Columbus Day as one of the most dramatic barometric changes in Oregon history. In our Harvard Avenue office in Roseburg, most of my staff was in the field when the winds began to pick up. By midafternoon the wind was pounding the old storefront windows and after a few false starts, the lights went out for good. Debris was blowing down the street and power lines began to break as limbs and trees started falling.

The office closed early. I drove through the Veterans Hospital grounds, around fallen trees, and found my family gazing out the front room window watching the neighbor's carport cartwheel down the street. Composition shingles were flying around the neighborhood and it was not until the next morning that I was able to account for all my employees. One of my foresters, John Rice, reported later that they had left surveying equipment in the field when the wind hit and had barely made it out to the highway. A flight the next day showed over 100 trees across their escape route. By early evening the storm had passed and the neighborhood gathered in the streets to look at the damage.

The entire District assembled the next morning because Rod Fety, Timber Management Branch Chief in the Oregon State Office, and his staff were already asking for early damage estimates. Foresters fanned out over the District with maps to plot the blowdown areas. By the end of the first day, my staff reported that the blowdown was so extensive that ground surveys were impractical. The next morning Sam Heaney, Drain Area Manager, and I took a helicopter flight from Roseburg to Drain and then back to Glide, Oregon. Sam quickly gave up trying to map the blowdown on an ungainly map that covered the whole cockpit, so I mapped while Sam estimated volumes. As we approached the NE corner of each clearcut, 10-40 acres of prime old growth timber could be seen laying on the ground in a jack-straw pattern.

That afternoon, we reassembled in District Manager Archie Craft's office to report our damage estimates. My counterpart was Jim Richardson (South Umpqua Area Manager); I noticed that when he gave his estimate he had substantially increased his figures. Suspecting that he was trying to position himself for expected additional funding, I doubled my estimate. Sam glared at me with his one good eye; as it turned out even our inflated estimates were both 50 percent too low.

An immediate request for additional funds went forward and the Secretarial Regulations were waived to allow for contract extensions, scale sales, and adjustment of existing timber sales. Everybody began a 6-day-a-week work schedule and within 8 months much of the timber was placed on the market. Every forester became a timber cruiser and truckloads of marking paint made the Nelson Paint Company a household word in the Northwest. We let the timber industry know we had added tracer elements to the BLM paint to minimize timber theft.

My recollection of the entire blow down salvage operations was one of tremendous individual and agency pride in our accomplishments. New road construction was dramatically accelerated, and by the end of the effort, access to almost all of the O&C timberlands was complete.

Estimates of the timber loss in western Oregon were 2.5 billion board feet, of which half was on the O&C lands. By the end of FY 1963, the O&C staff had offered 926 million board feet of the estimated 1.25 billion board feet of wind blown salvage. Typical of the western Oregon situation in 1963, the Roseburg allowable cut was 187 MMBF, but we had offered 256 MMBF. A remarkable accomplishment!


by Edwin Zaidlicz
Former Montana State Director

Editor's Note: BLM's resource programs were male-dominated domains until the 1960's. In only two decades, however, women became an integral part of the Bureau's resource management programs. Women professionals are now found in all programs and a number have moved into decision making professions. In hiring women professionals, the forestry program led the way. The first women forester in BLM was Elaine (Mosher) Pearsons. In the two accompanying stories we have the reaction of a long-time BLM forester to the hiring of Elaine Pearson and then her own reminscence of being a trail "blazer."

Elaine Pearsons
Elaine (Mosher) Pearsons (Edwin Zaidlicz)

Forestry in BLM was considered a domain peopled by virile, macho-type males not gifted with attributes of gentility, subtlety or other finer sensibilities. The few women in our ranks were saints—highly competent, intensely dedicated and courageously loyal to the cause of the "strange breed of cats." But none were foresters!

In 1961 several of our top headquarters' foresters were sent to our leading forestry school to recruit. We only had a few vacancies and great concern was shared by all—to snare the best young grads.

Fran Jacquemin returned to report glowingly of the "prize" he had committed from Michigan. While he ticked off his young forester's abilities, I shared his self-serving delight until he used the singular pronoun "she." I must admit to a feeling of shock, consternation, and disbelief. Our proud male domain was breached, we had our first "lady forester."

My worst fears were confirmed when Elaine Mosher nervously reported to my office for work. I had secretly hoped that she would be about 6 fee tall, gap-toothed, with a broken nose and wearing well worn "corks" [cleated boots]. Instead, I faced a petite, pretty, soft-spoken little lady. She was unlike any forester I had ever met. Over time, my parochial mindset like so many of my other firm convictions suffered a reversal. Elaine turned out to be a jewel and a great credit to her profession and organization. What she lacked in size and conventional stereotyping, she more than made up for with tenacity, awesome drive, courage and infectious adaptability.

Years after, Elaine was subjected to the acid test for any forester by being assigned to timber sale contract administration in the Salem O&C District Office. I can only imagine the scene as a group of hard-bitten loggers gathered around the warm-up fire for lunch when the government jeep pulled up and tiny Elaine stepped out to confront them. From all reports she more than met the test. I was convinced—ladies can't chew tobacco but they can wear "corks."

by Elaine (Mosher) Pearsons
BLM Forester—Retired

My BLM career began in 1961 when I was recruited from Michigan Technological University to work in Washington, DC. With no other professional-level job offers, I was grateful the BLM was willing to take a chance on me although a bit disappointed it wasn't a field job. In retrospect, my 2 years there training under Eugene Zumwalt, Ed "Moose" Zaidlicz and many other top foresters, better prepared me for my following field job. In DC, we were faced with organizing the harvest of the 1962 blowdown timber on the O&C lands.

Otto Krueger, District Manager at Salem, accepted me as the first woman field forester. I worked under Dick Renfeldt, Resource Manager for the East Side of the District. Dick's fine sense of humor took this new situation in stride and he made me feel a welcome part of the team as did most of the other foresters in the district. He placed me with Bill Taylor who was heading the reforestation program.

My first job with Bill was helicopter seeding. I was to take an outdated map and an old International Carryall heavily loaded with seed to meet Bill and the helicopter at loading points. I had never driven a truck before, let alone a badly swaying one, nor had I been around on any mountain logging roads. Somehow, in spite of the fear I'd mess up, the seed got delivered and I even had a turn seeding in the helicopter.

Messing up was always a concern as I felt I had to do everything right being the first woman field forester. My first day in the field with Dick, I ran a tree branch into my ear. Following that incident, though, I had a good safety record throughout my employment working in the field alone and traveling some scary logging roads to old plantings and seedings.

One time I was delayed by the State Police near Molalla. Wearing a stocking cap and work clothes, the trooper thought a 5' 2" teenage boy was stealing a government truck.

For about 2 years I continued doing reforestation survival surveys and when the new push for BLM recreation sites arose, I began evaluating sites for possible development.

During the next 2 years, I was transferred to the West Side of the District under Guy Higginson and Paul Kuhns doing much of the same type of work and was promoted to a GS-9 as I took on more responsibilities. Because of my knack for writing, I got in on some analysis studies and reports. Now I was working in the Coast Range in some of the best O&C timberlands.

By 1968, an obsession for training horses overwhelmed good sense and ended my forestry career prematurely. Since then I've married twice, once raising four stepchildren with a BLM timber cruiser, Dallas Chalfant (deceased), and now freelance writing, land surveying and owning a pack outfit with my husband, Don, for the past 11 years. We live in North-Central Idaho where we enjoy wilderness hunting and fishing.

Under the law, wild horses and burros were viewed as feral animals, not qualifying for protection under any wildlife legislation. BLM routinely issued permits in the 1950s and 1960s to companies gathering horses and burros off the public lands. More than 100,000 wild horses had been captured in Nevada alone during the 1950s, with most destined for rendering plants. In 1964 more than 1,200 animals gathered in a single roundup in Montana were sold as bucking horses.

In the late 1950s, BLM estimated that there were around 20,000 wild horses remaining in nine western states. By the late '60s this estimate dropped to 17,000. Much of the public became concerned that horse and burro numbers were dwindling and suggested the government set up refuges for them.

In 1962, the Nevada Wild Horse Range was created within the 394,000-acre Nellis Air Force Base. BLM built watering holes throughout the area, and, because livestock were not permitted on the base, wild horse numbers grew from about 200 in 1962 to more than 1,000 by 1976. Once protected, horses proved they could multiply rapidly.

The story of wild horse protection in America goes back to 1950, to a woman named Velma Johnston. Johnston made the 20-mile trip from her ranch outside Reno to her office for years, but one day found herself behind a cattle truck loaded with horses. Noticing blood dripping out of the back, she decided to follow the truck. What she found was a load of wild horses being delivered to a rendering plant. Most were injured, some badly, from the capture. On that day she resolved to publicize the plight of wild horses and prevent the kind of treatment she saw.

Wild horse and burro areas on the public lands

In 1952, Johnston and her supporters convinced Storey County, Nevada, to ban the use of aircraft in gathering horses. When Congress passed the Wild Horse Protection Act of 1959, much of the credit belonged to Johnston, who proudly took the name "Wild Horse Annie" from her detractors. In 1965, she founded the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, and soon after, the Wild Horse Organizational Assistance (WHOA). These groups and others then began a concerted effort to convince Congress to establish a national policy for protection of wild horses and burros, which came to fruition in 1971.

In 1968 BLM established the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range on 32,000 acres of land on the Montana-Wyoming border. The area was created after a local dispute erupted into a national controversy covered by the national news media.

Range conditions in the Pryor Mountains had deteriorated to the point where most lands were in poor condition and continuing to decline. At the same time, horse numbers had risen to about 125. The Montana Game and Fish Department asked BLM to remove most of the horses because they were using browse needed by deer. Several ranchers voiced concern about declining livestock forage. BLM worked out plans to remove all but 20 horses from the area.

Ranchers Lloyd and Royce Tillet, however, wanted to preserve the herd. So did the Lovell, Wyoming Chamber of Commerce. Wild horses had lived on the Tillets' lands since their parents settled there in 1894. A nationwide letter-writing campaign in 1966-67 convinced BLM to hold off on removing any horses pending further study of the situation. Director Rasmussen appointed a national wild horse advisory committee, which included Wild Horse Annie and the mayor of Lovell among its members.

Wild horse roundup, Wyoming (BLM)

by Boyd I Rasmussen

Boyd Rasmussen
Boyd L. Rasmussen (Jennifer Reese)

Editor's Note: Boyd L. Rasmussen spent 31 years with the Forest Service before becoming Director of BLM. After receiving a degree in forestry from Oregon State University, Rasmussen served as a district ranger, forest supervisor and Regional Forester in the Northwest. In Washington, he worked in the Division of Fire Control and became deputy chief of the Forest Service in 1964.

On a busy Washington day in 1966 my secretary came rushing into my Forest Service Office saying, "There's a guy on the phone who says he is the Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall and he wants to talk to you." It was Secretary Udall and he wanted to know if I was interested in becoming the Director of BLM. Thus my BLM career began.

Without a BLM background it was necessary for me to quickly understand its missions, objectives, legal responsibilities, and organization. Understanding relationships with the Secretary's staff and congressional committees was a must. At the same time it was imperative that my leadership be established to secure the support of the BLM staff as well as the Secretary's staff.

Foremost there was a need to secure recognition of BLM as a professional organization both within and outside the Bureau. It was mandatory to spearhead a PR program to secure favorable recognition of BLM's many outstanding accomplishments. Most of my efforts were directed with these in mind. It wasn't easy but BLM was ready.

My first project was to bring stability, poise, peace and quiet to a Bureau which had more than its share of unfavorable publicity, poor judgment, secret feuds, antagonism between the Washington and field offices, and a buddy system. I started by getting acquainted with the Washington and field staff and determining their capabilities. After all, they had a new Director they had never seen before, who had never worked for BLM, and came from a rival agency. I found the staff to be capable, professional, and eager to move. Now for some of the Bureau's accomplishments. Grazing fees had long been a problem for the BLM both with the permittees and the Congress. The recently completed Grazing Fee study by FS and BLM indicated that an increase was justified. The study did not recognize permit value as a part of the range fee calculation and gave an opportunity to effectively oppose any recognition of permit value.

Permit value was a rallying point for the permittees to fight the fee increase. Political support was on both sides. After much discussion a compromise was adopted. Grazing fees would be increased by increments over a 10-year period. To keep the study fee current, an inflation index factor was to be calculated annually. Thus the grazing fee would be in two parts—the annual increment and the inflation factor. The Secretary signed off at this point and BLM no longer had an annual grazing fee fight.

Sustained yield figures for the O&C and Coos Bay Wagon Grant lands had been controversial. Increased timber harvests were under suspicion from environmental interests. Overcutting charges were made. New studies indicated that under non-declining even flow the sustained yield figures should be reduced. Industry opposed any reduction in cut. Through a successful information program, BLM was able to secure support for a reduction. However, the Governor of Oregon entered into the discussions. Again it was necessary to reach an agreement both sides could live with. The final result was to reduce the allowable cut over a 4-year period. It was further agreed that the annual cut would include salvage material. This agreement stood and one more controversy was behind us.

The Classification and Multiple Use Act directed BLM to classify public lands for retention and management or for disposal. It presented an opportunity to look at all the public domain land in a different light—multiple use and ultimate retention and management. The decision was made to classify large areas on a broad basis. It gave us an orderly process of presenting our findings to the public and local officials for their approval. Consulting with local officials took away much of the political heat. In fact some counties conducted the hearings for BLM. Hearings allowed the public to be heard—and public approval went a long way. BLM classification work had a profound effect on the PLLRC recommendations.

State in lieu land grants had long been a headache and, while apart of normal activities, were subject to available appropriations. Our biggest problems were in Arizona where the state land department demanded immediate action on transfer of 600,000 acres of public domain for land inside national forest boundaries. Congress agreed to finance a program to transfer 200,000 acres a year.

The Boise Interagency Fire Center was made operational through continuous annual appropriation requests by BLM. Although the Forest Service shared in the center's operation, all development appropriations were secured through the BLM budget.

Thousands of unresolved land entry cases were on the books. Progress in resolving them was at a standstill. New cases came faster than decisions were made on old cases. We took our problem to the Congress and were able to start an orderly process to reduce the backlog.

We also launched a very successful PR program to gain public support and understanding of BLM multiple use programs stressing wildlife and recreation. Johnny Horizon was a first-rate PR effort to create a better awareness of the values of the public lands and the role of conservation.

When I left BLM it was a stable, professional outfit working together on common goals accepted by the field and Washington office. It was perceived by other professional groups as an equal. It had experienced many successes and was ready for more. Its fiscal programs were in order and its budget progress focused on performance. Problems were faced squarely and resolved in an expeditious manner. Personnel changes were based on merit.

BLM had public and Congressional approval. It was a responsible, dedicated public bureau staffed by many capable men and women who were proud of their work. I too was proud of being a part of a great bureau.

Fearing a roundup was still imminent, the Humane Society of the United States sued BLM to prevent it. Although a preliminary injunction against a roundup was denied, the case could have been reopened whenever BLM announced plans to gather horses from the area.

Thousands of letters deluged the Department, from elementary school students and their parents to concerned citizens all over the country, asking that BLM create a refuge for the horses. Director Rasmussen personally visited the Pryor Mountains in 1968 and concluded that the area should be established as the Bureau's first wild horse range. On September 12, Secretary Udall signed a Public Land Order establishing the refuge; BLM dropped its plans to remove horses from the area, but set a limit of 125 to 145 horses for the range to protect its forage.


Inventories of wildlife habitat on the public lands began in earnest after the CMU Act was passed. Public lands were found to provide important habitats for wildlife, including an estimated 3 million big game animals. Half the salmon and steelhead trout harvested along the Pacific Coast spawned on public lands. Eighty-five percent of the desert bighorn sheep's habitat existed on BLM lands.

In 1961, Secretary Udall designated 60,000 acres of BLM lands in California as the Caliente National Land and Wildlife Management Area to develop wildlife and recreation potentials under the authority of the Public Land Administration Act of 1960. By 1963, 14 areas in California totalling 810,000 acres were being managed on a cooperative basis with the state.

Also in 1961, BLM hired its first wildlife biologist. In addition, the Bureau signed a cooperative agreement for wildlife habitat management with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and proceeded to reintroduce wild turkey and antelope on public lands in the Arizona Strip District.

After passage of the CMU Act, Bob Smith, former Chief of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, was brought into the Washington Office to head up BLM's newly created Wildlife Division. BLM hired biologists in District Offices starting in 1965 and began to enter into wildlife research projects with other agencies. BLM's first fisheries biologists were hired in Oregon and California (in both State and District Offices) in 1968 to work on valuable anadromous fishery streams along the Pacific Coast.


While much of Congress' legislative efforts in the 1960s focused on recreation issues and preserving special areas (e.g., parks and wilderness areas), it also passed three acts dealing with water in 1965. The Water Resources Research Act allowed BLM to increase its watershed research activities, while the Water Resources Planning Act authorized BLM to enter into comprehensive water resource planning with other federal and state agencies. Under the Water Quality Act, BLM assisted western states in setting clean water standards.

A frail-lands study begun in 1965 identified 6.5 million acres of lands in the critical stages of erosion and over 38 million acres as being highly vulnerable. BLM took part in the Department of Agriculture's National Inventory of Soil and Watershed Conservation Needs and increased its cooperation with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS); 168 agreements were signed with SCS districts under Director Stoddard.


BLM provided assistance to 70 other nations during the '60s. In 1964 it entered into Participating Agency Service Agreements with the Agency for International Development, where BLM recruited employees for overseas assignments.

BLM's biggest effort occurred in northern Nigeria, where employees set up five range demonstration projects. Year-round water sources were developed and the range was managed for multiple use to improve forage and allow the nomadic Fulani Tribe to settle on the land. BLM also worked with Brazil, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia to design land survey systems and train them in record keeping.


Involving the public in BLM's classification process did more than just increase people's understanding of the public lands. America's rising interest in public lands translated into volunteers for a variety of projects. Foremost were litter campaigns—Boy Scout troops and citizens groups cleaned up recreation sites and trails—while spelunkers helped outdoor recreation planners locate and protect cave resources. Ranchers continued to build range improvements and wildlife groups built watering holes for game animals.

Johnny Horizon was created as part of a BLM nationwide antilitter campaign in 1968, but came to symbolize a new public land ethic in the West—one of people caring enough for their lands to take care of them. Actor/singer Burl Ives hosted a series of nationwide public service announcements to spread the word and did several Earth Day/Johnny Horizon concerts. The Department soon latched on to the campaign but disagreed as to how it should be funded; this and the program's wider coverage caused it to lose focus, resulting in its cancellation only 4 years after its inception.

by Jack Mcintosh
Former Butte District Manager

My Nigeria, Africa assignment was unquestionably the highlight of my career, for which I returned a better employee than when I left. The experience also had a positive impact on my family. I can recall many small day-to-day actions in the workplace and in the home setting where we really had a positive impact on the Nigerians. I will also state up front the program was successful and a credit to BLM. For our work, the team received a Departmental Unit Award which I display with pride. In spite of this, I take greater pride in my family's performance, which served to improve Nigerian lifestyles.

During the 1960s, the Nigerian government was structured as it was when the British granted independence from colonial rule. The national government was structured after the English. Under this provincial form of government, the native government remained intact and divided into Emirates as it had been for many years. The tax to support the Native Government was not based on land but on livestock as it had been in pre-colonial days.

Historically, the Fulani tribesmen, the cowboys of Nigeria, were nomadic, moving their herds north and south with seasonal rains, roaming from one Emirate to another as they saw fit. Consequently, it was difficult, often impossible to inventory the herds and harder yet to collect taxes. As a result, the Native Government had a huge interest in "settling the Fulani." They had no dynamic force like the IRS to collect taxes.

Since water and forage were key to the nomadic behavior of the Fulani, it seemed simple to apply American techniques of range management by developing water and grazing systems. The Fulani would then be tempted to stay in one place, making it easier for the Nigerian "IRS" to find and tax them.

So our team's objectives were two-fold: improve the range and settle the Fulani. The government's objective was simple: collect taxes.

Without going into great detail, our team applied systems, methods, and studies that had been successful on American ranges. We did these things with state-of-the-art techniques and in the end were only moderately successful. However, our plan to formally educate selected Nigerians in the U.S. proved of long-term benefit and was very successful.

Based on my experiences, I believe we should continue and expand the formal education programs for key Nigerians in the U.S. This interchange of ideas and exposure to different cultures was highly beneficial. Furthermore, I believe that Marshall Plan techniques cannot be duplicated in Third World nations and should not be tried. There simply is no quick cure for elevating these nations into American standards socially, politically, and educationally. Our effort to do so was like turning kids loose in a candy store. In our case, we gave the Nigerians techniques and equipment they were not capable of managing or implementing.

We can all criticize the mistakes Americans sometimes make when in foreign countries. Perhaps some things have changed, yet today I see the same flaws in policy that have contributed to the U.S. falling from grace in the international community. We have seen embassies overrun, American officials kidnapped and misuse of foreign aid. All are commonplace. Maybe we all need to try a little harder?


By the end of the 1960s, public land management was becoming a hotly debated topic. The public became a permanent player in the game and demonstrated that it was no longer willing to entrust the job entirely to land managers, to House committees, or to anyone else to the exclusion of others. The 1960s became "years of profound questioning and resisting of the established order," according to Dr. Sally Fairfax. "Techniques of political activism developed in the civil rights movement and refined in the antiwar movement were employed in the environmental cause."

While most conservation and user groups focused their efforts on obtaining legislation to meet their goals, others began to look at litigation. Here, too, the times were changing—environmental groups gained the right to sue the government. In 1965, an organization's "standing to sue" (the right to be heard in court) was granted by the U.S. Supreme Court to a group suing the Federal Power Commission. In this and other cases, the court broadened its interpretation of standing to sue from individuals suffering economic or physical harm to groups threatened with loss of a resource their members used. The court also found government actions to be within its scope of review, no longer refusing to hear cases by deferring to agency expertise.

According to Dr. Fairfax, America's conservation movement had been defined and led by government idealists since the early 1900s. In the 1960s, however, "the agencies were not leading the movement; and toward the end of the decade, they were being attacked by it."

Bureau of Land Management
Employees table
Budget table
Revenues table
Karl Landstrom1961-1963
Charles Stoddard1963-1966
Boyd Rasmussen1966-1971
Classification and Multiple Use Act1964
Public Land Law Review Commission Act1964
National Environmental Policy Act1970


As in the 1950s, historians have given little attention to the Bureau of Land Management. The material that is available is the work of political scientists, economists, and natural resource management specialists.

Samuel T. Dana and Sally K. Fairfax provide an overview of federal land policy in the 1960s in Forest and Range Policy: Its Development in the United States, Second Edition (1980), that includes some discussion of BLM. Marion Clawson has some brief, but good, discussion on BLM during these years in his The Federal Lands Revisited (1983). The internal workings of BLM are addressed by Marion Clawson in The Bureau of Land Management (1971) and David Paulsen's "An Approach to Organization Analysis: A Case Study of the Bureau of Land Management," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, 1966.

Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall's Third Conservation Wave is discussed by Barbara Leunes in her "The Conservation Philosophy of Stewart L. Udall, 1961-1968," Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, 1977. Also see Stewart Udall's The Quiet Crisis (1963).

A good compilation of articles on various aspects of public land management is found in Public Land Policy: Proceedings of the Western Resources Conference, Fort Collins, Colorado (1968). Range policy for the period is lightly touched upon by William Voigt, Jr., Public Grazing Lands: Use and Misuse by Industry and Government (1976). On the wild horse and burro debate in the 1960s, see Heather Smith Thomas' The Wild Horse Controversy (1979) and Wild Horses and Sacred Cows (1985) by Richard Symanski.

The O&C lands are discussed in Elmo Richardson's BLM's Billion-Dollar Checkerboard: Managing the O&C Lands (1980) and The O&C Lands (1981) by the University of Oregon's Bureau of Governmental Research and Service. The Bureau's firefighting program is discussed by Stephen J. Pyne in Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (1982).

Mineral policy and development is discussed in Robert Swenson's "Legal Aspects of Mineral Resources Exploitation," in Paul Wallace Gates' History of Public Land Law Development (1968), and by Carl Mayer and George Riley in Public Domain—Private Dominion: A History of Public Mineral Policy in America (1985). Oil shale is handled by Chris Welles in The Elusive Bonanza: The Story of Oil Shale, America's Richest and Most Neglected Natural Resource (1970). Robert Nelson's The Making of Federal Coal Policy (1983) is a very good study of the Interior Department's management of this mineral resource.

The State of Alaska's land program is expertly detailed by Gary Stein in "Promised Land": A History of Alaska's Selection of Its Congressional Land Grants (1987) and state conservation initiatives in Alaska: A Challenge in Conservation (1967) by Richard Cooley. The Alaska Native lands dispute is discussed by David S. Case, Alaska Natives and American Laws (1984); Mary Clay Berry, The Alaska Pipeline: The Politics of Oil and Native Land Claims (1975); and Robert Arnold, et al., Alaska Native Land Claims (1978).

On the Public Land Law Review Commission and its recommendations, see the Commission's report One-Third of the Nation's Lands (1970) and the Natural Resources Council of America's What's Ahead for Our Public Lands? A Summary Review of the Activities and Final Report of the Public Land Law Review Commission (1970).

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Last Updated: 08-Sep-2008