For anyone who has looked at a map of the United States and wondered how Texas and Oklahoma got their Panhandles, or flown over the American heartland and marveled at the vast grid spreading out in all directions below, American Boundaries will yield a welcome treasure trove of insight. The first book to chart the country’s growth using the boundary as a political and cultural focus, Bill Hubbard’s masterly narrative begins by explaining how the original thirteen colonies organized their borders and decided that unsettled lands should be held in trust for the common benefit of the people. Hubbard goes on to show—with the help of photographs, diagrams, and hundreds of maps—how the notion evolved that unsettled land should be divided into rectangles and sold to individual farmers, and how this rectangular survey spread outward from its origins in Ohio, with surveyors drawing straight lines across the face of the continent.
Mapping how each state came to have its current shape, and how the nation itself formed within its present borders, American Boundaries will provide historians, geographers, and general readers alike with the fascinating story behind those fifty distinctive jigsaw-puzzle pieces that together form the United States.
Loomis provides a clear and disturbing picture of military land-use planning and how it has affected residents in Nevada. He contends that a lack of citizen participation in the development of land-use plans is a weakness in the planning process and that both the military and the citizenry should take an active role to avoid future conflicts.
In recent times several “creation myths” have gained currency about how the United States government came to own and manage—for broad, mostly protective purposes—nearly one-third of the nation’s land. Controversies such as President Trump’s shrinking the boundaries of Grand Staircase–Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments and the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by a ragtag militia group protesting U.S. ownership have brought these myths to the forefront, suggesting that public lands are a kind of centrifugal force driving Americans apart. Over the nation’s long history, however, the opposite has nearly always been the case. In this essay, John Leshy debunks the myths that have contributed to the often polarized character of contemporary discussions of public lands. Recounting numerous episodes throughout American history, he demonstrates how public lands have generally served to unify the country, not divide it. Steps to safeguard these lands for all to enjoy have almost always enjoyed wide, deep, bipartisan support. Leshy argues that America’s vast public lands are priceless assets, a huge success story, and a credit to the workings of our national government. But because these lands remain fully subject to the political process, each generation of Americans must effectively decide upon their future.
This lecture was presented on March 14, 2018, at the 23rd annual symposium of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
Social commentator and preeminent Western historian Bernard DeVoto vigorously defended public lands in the West against commercial interests. At his death in 1955, DeVoto had won both the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes. But he was most famous for his eloquent writing that advocated conservation of America's prairies, rangeland, forests, mountains, canyons, and deserts.DeVoto's West: Essays on History, Conservation, and the Public Good showcases the complexity, depth, and breadth of DeVoto's thinking. Editor Edward K. Muller introduces these twenty-two essays (many of which originally appeared in Harper's renowned column The Easy Chair) that passionately and coherently advocate federal control for vast tracts of public land. DeVoto addressed many issues, including the plundering of resources by absentee eastern corporations, Westerners' conflicted relationship to exploitation, and the degradation of the national parks. He believed that conservation of natural resources in the West required government control of public lands against livestock associations, timber interests, and their congressional allies who plotted the privatization of the national forests and the extraction of resources in the national parks.DeVoto's West collects the best of DeVoto's conservation pieces for the first time. It will introduce a new generation to prose that has retained its relevance and remains a remarkably current and timely argument for protecting public lands. Bernard DeVoto was born in Ogden, Utah, in 1897. He spent his adult life in the East, first teaching English at Northwestern University, Chicago, then living in New York, and finally settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the subject of an acclaimed biography, The Uneasy Chair, by Wallace Stegner.
The management of public lands in the West is a matter of long-standing and oft-contentious debates. The government must balance the interests of a variety of stakeholders, including extractive industries like oil and timber; farmers, ranchers, and fishers; Native Americans; tourists; and environmentalists. Local, state, and government policies and approaches change according to the vagaries of scientific knowledge, the American and global economies, and political administrations. Occasionally, debates over public land usage erupt into major incidents, as with the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.
While a number of scholars work on the politics and policy of public land management, there has been no central book on the topic since the publication of Charles Davis's Western Public Lands and Environmental Politics (Westview, 2001). In The Environmental Politics and Policy of Western Public Lands, Erika Allen Wolters and Brent Steel have assembled a stellar cast of scholars to consider long-standing issues and topics such as endangered species, land use, and water management while addressing more recent challenges to western public lands like renewable energy siting, fracking, Native American sovereignty, and land use rebellions. Chapters also address the impact of climate change on policy dimensions and scope.
From Conquest to Conservation is a visionary new work from three of the nation’s most knowledgeable experts on public lands. As chief of the Forest Service, Mike Dombeck became a lightning rod for public debate over issues such as the management of old-growth forests and protecting roadless areas. Dombeck also directed the Bureau of Land Management from 1994 to 1997 and is the only person ever to have led the two largest land management agencies in the United States. Chris Wood and Jack Williams have similarly spent their careers working to steward public resources, and the authors bring unparalleled insight into the challenges facing public lands and how those challenges can be met.
Here, they examine the history of public lands in the United States and consider the most pressing environmental and social problems facing public lands. Drawing heavily on fellow Forest Service employee Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, they offer specific suggestions for new directions in policy and management that can help maintain and restore the health, diversity, and productivity of public land and water resources, both now and into the future.
Also featured are lyrical and heartfelt essays from leading writers, thinkers, and scientists— including Bruce Babbitt, Rick Bass, Patricia Nelson Limerick, and Gaylord Nelson—about the importance of public lands and the threats to them, along with original drawings by William Millonig.
Debates continue to rage over the merits or flaws of public land and whether or not it should be privatized—or at least, radically reconfigured in some way. In Defense of Public Lands offers a comprehensive refutation of the market-oriented arguments. Steven Davis passionately advocates that public land ought to remain firmly in the public’s hands. He reviews empirical data and theoretical arguments from biological, economic, and political perspectives in order to build a case for why our public lands are an invaluable and irreplaceable asset for the American people.
In Defense of Public Lands briefly lays out the history and characteristics of public lands at the local, state, and federal levels while examining the numerous policy prescriptions for their privatization or, in the case of federal lands, transfer. He considers the dimensions of environmental health; markets and valuation of public land, the tensions between collective values and individual preferences, the nature and performance of bureaucratic management, and the legitimacy of interest groups and community decision-making. Offering a fair, good faith overview of the privatizers’ best arguments before refuting them, this timely book contemplates both the immediate and long-term future of our public lands.
The National Wildlife Refuges provides a comprehensive examination of the laws and policies governing management of the national wildlife refuges, offering for the first time a practical description and analysis of the management regime outlined in the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act. The 1997 act is the first new statute governing a system of federal public lands enacted since the 1970s. The evolution of law governing the refuge system parallels broader trends in public land management and environmental protection, making the refuge system a valuable case study for those interested in environmental management, policy, and law. The book:
describes the National Wildlife Refuge System and its legal history
offers a detailed breakdown of the 1997 act, including its purpose, designated uses, comprehensive planning provisions, substantive management criteria, and public participation aspects
considers individual refuges and specific issues that apply to only certain refuges
discusses oil and gas development in refuges
offers observations about how well the refuge system law resolves historic tensions and achieves modern conservation goals
A separate chapter examines the special rules governing refuges in Alaska and considers the contentious debate over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Appendixes offer a reference of acronyms and abbreviations, a chronology of the refuge system's development, key statutory provisions (including the full text of the 1997 act), and basic information about each national wildlife refuge.
With an approach to conservation that is increasingly prevalent around the world, the National Wildlife Refuge System is an important model for sustainable resource management, and the book's analyses of the refuge system's ecological management criteria, conflicts between primary and subsidiary uses, and tension between site-specific standards and uniform national goals all offer important lessons for environmental governance generally.
In the spring of 2014, rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed supporters engaged in a standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents, and once again, the federal management of public lands was in the national spotlight. The conflict arose because Bundy had not paid required grazing fees and a federal judge ordered the confiscation of his cattle. The ensuing media coverage highlighted information that may have surprised those outside the rural West: the federal government manages 640 million acres of public land, with over 90 percent of it in the West.
In Open Spaces, Open Rebellions, Michael J. Makley offers a succinct and compelling history of the federal government's management of public lands. As Makley reveals, beginning in the nineteenth century and continuing to the present day, debates over how best to balance the use of these lands by the general public, fee-paying ranchers, and resource developers have always been complex and contentious. Indeed, these debates have often been met with demands for privatization or state control, best exemplified by the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s and the 2016 occupation of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Even before the publication of Progress and Poverty in 1879, San Francisco political economist and publisher Henry George (1839-1897) had written extensively about what he considered to be the causes for worldwide economic inequity—land monopolization and speculation by wealthy entrepreneurs and corrupt politicians. But his attacks on these evils were coupled with a plan for a possible brighter future, for a world in which disparities between people of different classes could be adjusted. By the time he died in 1897, his assessments of liberal 19th-century economic theory were critically acclaimed in Europe and the United States.
Michigan State University Press's new edition of Our Land and Land Policy includes the texts of speeches George delivered and essays he published during three decades of political activism. These pieces were chosen originally in 1901 by George's son, Henry George, Jr., to portray the expansiveness and depth of his father's philosophy and the sincerity with which the elder George struggled throughout his life for social justice.
In A Place for Dialogue, Sharon McKenzie Stevens views the contradictions and collaborations involved in the management of public land in southern Arizona—and by extension the entire arid West—through the lens of political rhetoric. Revealing the socioecological relationships among cattlemen and environmentalists as well as developers and recreationists, she analyzes the ways that language shapes landscape by shaping decisions about land use.
Stevens focuses on the collaborative Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan initiated by Pima County, Arizona, the ubiquitous use of scientific argument to defend contradictory practices, and the construction and negotiation of rancher/environmentalist identities to illuminate both literally and metaphorically the dynamics of land use politics. Drawing specifically upon extensive interviews with a diverse array of agents on all sides of the debate—ranchers, environmentalists, scientists, land managers, government officials—on historical narratives, and on her own conflicting experiences as someone who grew up with those who work the western lands, she demonstrates that it is possible to use differences to solve, rather than to aggravate, the entrenched problems that bridge land and language.
By integrating her richly textured case study of a fragile region with rhetorical approaches to narrative, science-based argument, and collective identities, Stevens makes a significant contribution to the fields of rhetoric, land management, and cultural studies.
The subject of historic struggle and contemporary dispute, public lands in the United States are treasured spaces. In Public Lands, Public Debates, environmental historian Char Miller explores the history of conservation thinking and the development of a government agency with stewardship at its mission.
Owned in common, our national forests, monuments, parks, and preserves are funded through federal tax receipts, making these public lands national in scope and significance. Their controversial histories demonstrate their vulnerability to shifting tides of public opinion, alterations in fiscal support, and overlapping authorities for their management—including federal, state, and local mandates, as well as critical tribal prerogatives and military claims.
Miller takes the Forest Service as a gauge of the broader debates in which Americans have engaged since the late nineteenth century. In nineteen essays,he examines critical moments of public and private negotiation to help explain the particular, and occasionally peculiar, tensions that have shaped the administration of public lands in the United States.
“Watching democracy at work can be bewildering, even frustrating, but the only way individuals and organizations can sift through the often messy business of public deliberation is to deliberate...”
Reserved Water Rights Settlement Manual
Peter W. Sly; Western Office of Council of State Governments Western LegislativeConference Island Press, 1989 Library of Congress KF8210.N37S58 1988 | Dewey Decimal 346.730432
Reserved Water Rights Settlement Manual provides a negotiating process for settling water disputes between states and reservations, or among states themselves.
Listed as one of the Reno News & Review's "New Books from Nevada Authors," December 29, 2021
The grazing rights battle between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government, resulting in a tense, armed standoff between Bundy’s supporters and federal law enforcement officers, garnered international media attention in 2014. Saints, Sinners, and Sovereign Citizens places the Bundy conflict into the larger context of the Sagebrush Rebellion and the long struggle over the use of federal public lands in the American West.
Author John L. Smith skillfully captures the drama of the Bundy legal tangle amid the current political climate. Although no shots were fired during the standoff itself, just weeks later self-proclaimed Bundy supporters murdered two Las Vegas police officers and a civilian. In Eastern Oregon, other Bundy supporters occupied the federal offices of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and one of them died in a hail of bullets.
While examining the complex history of federal public land policies, Smith exposes both sides of this story. He shows that there are passionate true believers on opposite sides of the insurrection, along with government agents and politicians in Washington complicit in efforts to control public lands for their wealthy allies and campaign contributors. With the promise of billions of dollars in natural resource profits and vast tracts of environmentally sensitive lands hanging in the balance, the West’s latest range war is the most important in the nation’s history. This masterful exposé raises serious questions about the fate of America’s public lands and the vehement arguments that are framing the debate from all sides.
The vast public lands of the American West are being transformed today, not geologically but conceptually. A century ago, visitors to western public lands were likely to be ranchers or miners. Today, the lands are popular destinations for campers, hikers, rock climbers, river runners, artists, and off-road-vehicle enthusiasts. These new visitors have proved to be a challenge for managers of public lands, in particular the federal Bureau of Land Management. Perhaps no area has been more affected by changing users and shifting policies than the San Rafael Swell, a million-acre expanse in southeastern Utah. In this insightful and useful book, Jeffrey Durrant follows the trail of decisions and events that have had—and continue to have—a transformative impact on this ancient land.
In detailing political and environmental squabbles over the San Rafael Swell, Durrant illuminates issues that confront land managers, bureaucrats, and elected officials throughout the country. He describes struggles between county commissioners and environmental activists, conflicts over water rights, proposals that repeatedly fail to gain government approval, and political posturings. Caught in the crossfire, and often overwhelmed, the Bureau of Land Management has seen its long-time mission—once centered on grazing and mining rights—transmogrify into a new and, to some, unsettling responsibility for recreation and preservation.
The sandstone crags and twisting valleys of the San Rafael Swell present a formidable landscape, but as this book clearly shows, the political landscape may be even more daunting, strewn with bureaucratic boulders and embedded with fixed positions on the functions and values of public land.
Over 634 million acres of the United States -- nearly a million square miles -- are federally owned. These American Lands is both a history and a celebration of that inheritance. First published in 1986, the book was hailed by Wallace Stegner as "the only indispensable narrative history of the public lands." This completely revised and updated edition is an unsurpassed resource for everyone who cares about, visits, or works with public land in the United States. With over 75 pages of new material, the volume covers:
national resource lands
wild and scenic rivers
Each chapter outlines the history of the unit of public lands under discussion, clarifies the resource use and policy conflicts that are currently besetting it, and provides a detailed agenda of management, expansion, and preservation goals.
In the eight states of the interior West (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming), 260 million acres -- more than 48 percent of the land base -- are owned by the federal government and managed by its Washington, D.C.-based agencies. Like many other peoples throughout history who have bristled under the controlling hand of a remote government, westerners have long nursed a deep resentment toward our nation's capital. Rumblings of revolution have stirred for decades, bolstered in recent years by increasing evidence of the impossibility of a distant, centralized government successfully managing the West's widespread and far-flung lands.
In This Sovereign Land, Daniel Kemmis offers a radical new proposal for giving the West control over its land. Unlike those who wish to privatize the public lands and let market forces decide their fate, Kemmis, a leading western Democrat and committed environmentalist, argues for keeping the public lands public, but for shifting jurisdiction over them from nation to region. In place of the current centralized management, he offers a regional approach that takes into account natural topographical and ecological features, and brings together local residents with a vested interest in ensuring the sustainability of their communities. In effect, Kemmis carries to their logical conclusion the recommendations about how the West should be governed made by John Wesley Powell more than a century ago.
Throughout, Kemmis argues that the West no longer needs to be protected against itself by a paternalistic system and makes a compelling case that the time has come for the region to claim sovereignty over its own landscape. This Sovereign Land provides a provocative opening to a much-needed discussion about how democracy and ecological sustainability can go hand in hand, and will be essential reading for anyone interested in the West and western issues, as well as for all those concerned with place-based conservation, public lands management, bioregionalism, or related topics.
Inspired by the fiftieth anniversary of the University of Utah’s American West Center, the oldest regional studies center in the United States, Western Lands, Western Voices explores the many dimensions of public history. This collection of thirteen essays is rooted in the real-world experiences of the authors and is the first volume to focus specifically on regional public history.
Contributors include tribal government officials, state and federal historians, independent scholars and historical consultants, and academics. Some are distinguished historians of the American West and others are emerging voices that will shape publicly engaged scholarship in the years to come. Among the issues they address are community history and public interpretation, tribal sovereignty, and the importance of historical research for land management. The volume will be indispensable to researchers and general readers interested in museum studies, Native American studies, and public lands history and policy.
Land ownership by individual citizens is a cornerstone of American heritage and a centerpiece of the American dream. Thomas Jefferson called it the key to our success as a democracy. Yet the question of who owns America not only remains unanswered but is central to a fundamental conflict that can pit private property rights advocates against government policymakers and environmentalists.
Land use authority Harvey M. Jacobs has gathered a provocative collection of perspectives from eighteen contributors in the fields of law, history, anthropology, economics, sociology, forestry, and environmental studies. Who Owns America? begins with the popular view of land ownership as seen though the television show Bonanza! It examines public regulation of private land; public land management; the roles culture and ethnic values play in land use; and concludes with Jacobs’ title essay. Who Owns America? is a powerful and illuminating exploration of the very terrain that makes us Americans. Its broad set of theoretical and historical perspectives will fascinate historians, environmental activists, policy makers, and all who care deeply about the land we share.
In 1950 Velma Johnston, a shy Nevada ranch wife, came upon a horse trailer leaking blood. When she discovered the destination of the trailer and its occupants—a trio of terrified and badly injured wild horses—she launched a crusade that eventually reached the halls of Congress and changed the way westerners regard and treat the bands of mustangs and burros that roam their region.
Wild horses have been a subject of bitter controversy in the West for decades. To some, they are symbols of the West’s wild, free heritage. To others, they are rapacious grazers that destroy habitat and compete with domestic livestock and indigenous wildlife for scanty food and water. For years, free-ranging horses and burros were rounded up and shipped to slaughterhouses to be killed and turned into pet food. This practice provided an income for the “mustangers” who trapped and sold them, but it also involved horrendous cruelty and abuse of the animals.
Velma Johnston, who became known as “Wild Horse Annie,” undertook to stop the removal of wild horses and burros from US public lands and protect them from the worst aspects of mustanging. Her campaign attracted nationwide attention, as it led her from her rural Nevada County to state offices and finally to Washington, DC. Author Alan J. Kania worked closely with Johnston for seven years, and his biography provides unique insight into Wild Horse Annie’s life and her efforts to save the West’s wild horse herds through the passage of protective legislation.
Questions about land use, conservation, and preservation—already so perplexing and contentious—take on a new complexity and greater urgency when the land in question is understood as sacred. This is a view increasingly held, as adherents of mainstream religions come to recognize what indigenous peoples knew centuries ago—that the sacred inheres in nature itself. What such a trend means and how it involves the forces of culture, religion, and constitutional law (especially First Amendment clauses concerning the free exercise of religion) are considered with a remarkable breadth and depth of understanding in this important new work.
Drawing on case studies of national parks and monuments, national forests, and other public lands and resources, Lloyd Burton gives a clear and comprehensive account of how the intertwining influences of culture, religion, and law have affected the management of public lands and resources in the recent past and how they may do so in the future. In a unique and unprecedented way, his book weaves together teachings on nature and the sacred among indigenous and immigrant culture groups in the United States; the relevant constitutional history of religion and government action; and analysis of contemporary conflicts over culture, religion, and public lands management. As such, Worship and Wilderness is essential reading not only for public land managers and environmental policy makers but also for anyone interested in the growing significance of religious interests in the use of resources that constitute our national commons and our common natural heritage.