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Public Lands Foundation

The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) is a national  membership organization that advocates and works to keep public lands in public hands. The public lands that we focus on are those that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

PLF was founded in 1987 and is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. PLF endorses and embraces the multiple use mission of the BLM.

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

PLF is an independent organization and is not  part of the BLM. Membership is open to current, former and retired BLM employees and all who have an interest in how public lands are used and managed.

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Bureau of Land Management

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. Today, the BLM manages public lands under the provisions of its organic act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and other related laws.

BLM-Managed Lands

The BLM manages one in every 10 acres of land in the United States, and approximately 30 percent of the Nation’s minerals.  These lands and minerals are found in every state in the country and encompass forests, mountains, rangelands, arctic tundra, and deserts. Most are located in twelve western States, including Alaska and comprise 245 million acres of land and 700 million acres of mineral estate. They are officially designated as the “National System of Public Lands (NSPL).

In addition to the public lands managed by the BLM, there are other public lands managed by U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies.

Federal Land Policy and Management Act

Public Law 94-579

43 U.S.C. Chapter 35.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 is often called the BLM’s organic act, since it authorizes the BLM to do a lot of the things it does on a daily basis. Through FLPMA, Congress formally recognized what BLM had been doing for many years: managing public lands under the principles of multiple use and sustained yield. FLPMA did much more, though—it granted BLM new authorities and responsibilities, amended or repealed previous legislation, and prescribed specific management techniques.  Here are six of the most important parts of FLPMA.

FLPMA:

  • Mandates the permanent federal ownership of public lands.
  • Declares that BLM will manage public lands for multiple uses and values.
  • Repealed more than 1,000 out-of-date land management statutes, replacing them with new policies, including a new planning system.
  • Changed how BLM manages minerals and grazing in public lands.
  • Mandated new forms of preservation and protection for public lands.
  • Helped to usher in a cultural change in the BLM.

In 2017, approximately 245 million acres of the original public domain lands remain under BLM’s management. The federal government funds most of 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. For further information, see the BLM’s publication entitled “The BLM: A Sound Investment for America: 2016.”

In FY 2017, over 1,900 local governments received $464.6 million under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program (PILT).

Additional Information

DOI Economic Report
Every year since 2009 the U.S. 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 2016.

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.