Public Lands Foundation

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About the Public Lands Foundation

The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) is a national non-profit membership organization that advocates and works for the retention of America’s National System of Public Lands (NSPL) in public hands, professionally and sustainably managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for responsible use and enjoyment by everyone.

PLF endorses and embraces the multiple use mission of the BLM, which is the agency that manages the NSPL.

Most of our members spent their careers managing these public lands located throughout the West. They have personal knowledge of these lands and unparalleled expertise in their management.

PLF is a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization that is not affiliated with or a part of the BLM. Membership is open to current, former and retired BLM employees and all who have an interest in how the NSPL is used and managed.


About the National System of Public Lands (NSPL)

The NSPL managed by the BLM, comprises about 245 million surface acres located in 28 States, including Alaska, (about one-eighth of the total land surface of the United States), and 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate. The majority of these public lands are located in the 11 Western States and Alaska.

About the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

The BLM is an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. President Harry S. Truman created the BLM in 1946 by combining two existing agencies: the General Land Office and the Grazing Service. The mission of the BLM is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” The BLM’s holdings were described originally as “the land nobody wanted” because homesteaders had passed them by.




About the Economic Contribution of Public Lands

In 2017, approximately 245 million acres of the original public domain lands remain in the National System of Public Lands administered by the BLM. The federal government funds most the cost of managing public use and protecting the resources on these federal lands. The BLM’s budget for FY 2017 is $1.2 billion.

The value of the public lands is indisputable as a legacy for future generations and as a contributor to present-day economics and quality of life. Public lands managed by the BLM contributed $88 billion to the U.S. economy while supporting nearly 374,000 jobs in FY 2015. The economic output generated by activities on the public lands fuel local economies.  Energy related development and production — including oil and gas, coal, non-energy minerals, and geothermal, wind and solar energy — on BLM-managed public lands contributed just over $79 billion in FY 2015. Within that total, oil and gas generated $50.4 billion; coal $14.1 billion; non-energy minerals such as sand and gravel $13.3 billion; and geothermal, wind and solar energy leases $1.2 billion.

Other significant economic activity was supported by: recreation use ($5.5 billion); livestock production, or the introduction of feed, fiber, and livestock into the market ($2.2 billion); and timber harvesting ($800 million). Royalties and other revenues are also collected on this economic activity, resulting in substantial funds being contributed back to the U.S. Treasury, as well as to state and local governments.

States and local governments (counties and boroughs) share in much of the revenue generated on public lands. Fifty percent of the royalties from hard rock and fluid (oil and gas) mineral development and leasing go to the affected state. Each year, either 50 percent of grazing fees or $10 million, whichever is greater, is allocated back to the BLM state office or field office where the money was collected, and used for range improvements. Fifty percent of receipts from timber sales on the Oregon and California lands are allocated to the 18 counties where harvest occurs.

In FY 2016, over 1,900 local governments received $451.6 million under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program (PILT).

Additional Information

DOI Economic Report
Every year since 2009 the Department of the Interior has released an annual Economic Contribution Report highlighting the current economic impact of Interior’s existing programs and activities, and underscores the impact Interior has on a state-by-state basis. The latest report is for FY 2015.

The Outdoor Industry Association in 2017 released a report on the outdoor recreation economy. Highlights include: $887 billion in consumer spending annually; 7.6 million American jobs; $65.3 billion in Federal tax revenue; and, $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue. Read the full report here.