Department of Public Lands

Nameless Range

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While the future of Montana Hunting hangs in the balance I know there are bigger fish to fry, but I wonder about things and have no one but this forum to wonder them to.

I’m sure I am not the first person to ask this, and if I recall correctly the concept has a sordid history, but is the separation of the USFS and BLM as distinct entities necessary and inefficient? Could they be merged?

Last night a group I am a member of was listening to the representatives of a search and rescue outfit try to come up with solutions to a problem area in our county. Half this area is BLM, and the other half is USFS. Ultimately, nothing effective will come of this unless both of those agencies work together, and even more, until one of them comes up with a travel plan. Trails know no bounds, and to 95% of public land users BLM, USFS or other, they don't care and it doesn't affect their use. To them, they are on Public Land.

This is the mission statement of the Bureau of Land Management:

The Bureau of Land Management's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations

This is the mission statement of the United States Forest Service:

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

They have identical mission statement, which I of course, know do not tell the whole tale.

I know damn well they do things differently. I can think of dozens of problematic specific issues that would arise, based on past organizational structures, functions, and process, and I know how they came to be from very different lineages, but if we were starting over, why would they be separate entities? If today, the concept of public lands were invented and on offer, I do not think we would be create two separate entities to manage them.

So much of the issues within these agencies are a result of underfunding or at the very least, resource constraints. The more I interact with and speak with folks from these agencies, it couldn’t be more obvious. I’m not on the attack, but one some level I despair a bit about how inefficient and needlessly difficult some things are.

And yes, I know it would be a monumental overhaul, requiring billions of dollars to align Forest/Resource Management Plans, etc. This is not me wondering about something I believe to be feasible or even personally wish to be, but it is me wondering.
 

Nameless Range

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USFS in in Dept. of Agriculture silo. BLM is Dept of Interior. Apples vs snow tires.
I'm aware of the different Depts under which they exist, but in terms of their function, and in particular what they mean to the Americans they serve, I think the analogy overstates the difference between the two.

To be clear, I don't think a future in which they are one is realistic at all.
 

TOGIE

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i could imagine a beautiful world where the combo departments ramp up responsible logging and thinning and ramp down excessive and cheap leased drilling.

would that be the hybrid? or less of each?

probably less of each
 

antlerradar

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Something similar to this was proposed back in the 80's. In Montana the federal land in the eastern half of the state would all be BLM and the western half would be forest service.
 

elkduds

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I'm aware of the different Depts under which they exist, but in terms of their function, and in particular what they mean to the Americans they serve, I think the analogy overstates the difference between the two.

To be clear, I don't think a future in which they are one is realistic at all.
I agree that for us in the west, they appear more alike than different. Yes, they could accomplish much more in cooperation. I'm noting the intransigence of the bureaucracies that divide them, rooted in who holds the $/power.
 

kwyeewyk

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I'm with you, if it were just being done makes perfect sense, retrofitting it will likely never happen. Combine the higher management structure and keep the national forests/grasslands/monuments/parks etc as their own management units, BLM the overarching agency due to their widespread landbase and subsurface management.
 

Perlodid

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A very reasonable question. I was curious on the history and found that the Government Accountability Office examined the feasibility of moving USFS to DOI in 2009. Not exactly what you are asking, but it's an interesting thought. I haven't been able to get that far in because I just found it, but there's a lot of conversation about BLM-USFS collaboration in this.


Full report: https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-09-223.pdf


Edit: Actually a few specific sections on this in particular -

• Create a department of natural resources. A number of officials
and experts said a new department of natural resources should be
created to house all the federal resource agencies, including the Forest
Service and those in Interior. Some said that having one department
focused on natural resources would allow the Secretary to balance use
of federal natural resources with their protection. One official stated
that such an organization would bring together all the conservation-
oriented agencies, thereby improving management of lands located in
the same watersheds. A few officials and an expert stated that moving
the Forest Service into Interior could be the first step in creating such a
department. One rationale behind similar proposals made during the
Nixon and Carter administrations identified the possibility of improving
management of all federal resources and weighing resource use and
protection.
• Merge the Forest Service and BLM. Numerous officials and experts
said that moving the Forest Service into Interior without changing the
agencies’ authorities would change little in the agencies’ programs or
policies to increase their effectiveness or efficiency. Some officials and
experts identified inefficiencies in management as stemming from
inconsistent laws and regulations and thought a merger would begin to
remove these inconsistencies. The Public Land Law Review
Commission recognized the need for further reorganization of land
management agencies or functions within Interior if the Forest Service
were moved into the department. It recommended, first, that the Forest
Service be merged into Interior but also, second, that the Secretary
reorganize land management functions, including those within the
Forest Service.
Granted, this document wasn't created to make recommendations, or to formulate a plan to actually accomplish this. It is the most direct information I have found on the topic from an agency though.
 
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ElkFever2

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DPL Mission Statement: To host a game of political football in perpetuity, to be played between lobbyists, to the benefit of the largest PACs.
 

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