Bureau of Land Management

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior which administers America's public lands, totaling approximately 253 million acres (1,023,855 km2) or one-eighth of the landmass of the country.[1] BLM also manages 700 million acres (2,832,800 km2) of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal, state and private lands. Most public lands are located in western states, including Alaska. With approximately 10,000 permanent employees and close to 2,000 seasonal employees, this works out to over 21,000 acres (85 km2) per employee. Its budget is $960,000,000 for 2010 ($3.79 per surface acre, $9.38 per hectare).[2]

The BLM's stated mission is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Contents

History

The BLM's pure roots go back to the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These laws provided for the survey and settlement of the lands that the original 13 colonies ceded to the Federal government after the War of Independence. As additional lands were acquired by the United States from Spain, France, and other countries, the United States Congress directed that they be explored, surveyed, and made available for settlement. In 1812, Congress established the General Land Office in the Department of the Treasury to oversee the disposition of these Federal lands. As the 19th century progressed and the Nation's land base expanded further west, Congress encouraged the settlement of the land by enacting a wide variety of laws, including the Homesteading Laws and the Mining Law of 1872.

These statutes served one of the major policy goals of the young country—settlement of the Western territories. With the exception of the Mining Law of 1872 and the Desert Land Act of 1877 (which was amended), all have since been repealed or superseded by other statutes.

The late 19th century marked a shift in Federal land management priorities with the creation of the first national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. By withdrawing these lands from settlement, Congress signaled a shift in the policy goals served by the public lands. Instead of using them to promote settlement, Congress decided that they should be held in public ownership because of their other resource values.

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