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Managing Public Lands

November 4, 2011 • Volume 21, Issue 39
Can preservation and energy development coexist?
By Jennifer Weeks

Introduction

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
Conservationists cheered the 1996 designation of 1.7 million acres of red rock canyons and rugged desert in southern Utah as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But some Westerners saw preservation of the coal-rich site as an abuse of federal power. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

The millions of acres of publicly owned lands managed by the U.S. government produce valuable resources, such as timber, minerals, oil and gas. Mainly located in Western states, these scenic and historic lands also are prized recreation areas where each year millions of visitors hunt, camp, hike and explore. Some conservatives want to restrict the government's authority to protect public lands from private development. Environmentalists say these lands need more protection, not less, and that mining and grazing on public lands have been underpriced for decades, encouraging waste and abuse. President Obama signed a law in 2009 setting aside 2.1 million federal acres as wilderness, but he also advocates allowing renewable-energy production on public lands, which some conservationists oppose. Meanwhile, climate change threatens many of the benefits derived from public lands, such as clean drinking water, safe habitats for endangered wildlife and pristine wild places for recreation.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Environmental Protection
Jul. 18, 2014  Regulating Toxic Chemicals
Sep. 20, 2013  Future of the Arctic
Jun. 14, 2013  Climate Change
Nov. 06, 2012  Vanishing Biodiversity
Nov. 02, 2012  Managing Wildfires
Nov. 04, 2011  Managing Public Lands
Aug. 26, 2011  Gulf Coast Restoration
Jul. 2010  Plastic Pollution
Feb. 2010  Climate Change
Jan. 09, 2009  Confronting Warming
Dec. 05, 2008  Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Nov. 2008  Carbon Trading
Oct. 03, 2008  Protecting Wetlands
Feb. 29, 2008  Buying Green
Dec. 14, 2007  Future of Recycling
Nov. 30, 2007  Disappearing Species
Feb. 2007  Curbing Climate Change
Dec. 01, 2006  The New Environmentalism
Jan. 27, 2006  Climate Change
Oct. 25, 2002  Bush and the Environment
Oct. 05, 2001  Invasive Species
Nov. 05, 1999  Saving Open Spaces
Jun. 11, 1999  Saving the Rain Forests
May 21, 1999  Setting Environmental Priorities
Mar. 19, 1999  Partisan Politics
Oct. 16, 1998  National Forests
Jun. 19, 1998  Environmental Justice
Aug. 23, 1996  Cleaning Up Hazardous Wastes
Mar. 31, 1995  Environmental Movement at 25
Jun. 19, 1992  Lead Poisoning
May 15, 1992  Jobs Vs. Environment
Jan. 17, 1992  Oil Spills
Sep. 20, 1991  Saving the Forests
Apr. 26, 1991  Electromagnetic Fields: Are They Dangerous?
Sep. 08, 1989  Free Market Environmental Protection
Dec. 09, 1988  Setting Environmental Priorities
Jul. 29, 1988  Living with Hazardous Wastes
Dec. 20, 1985  Requiem for Rain Forests?
Aug. 17, 1984  Protecting the Wilderness
Jun. 15, 1984  Troubled Ocean Fisheries
Aug. 19, 1983  America's Disappearing Wetlands
Feb. 22, 1980  Noise Control
Nov. 16, 1979  Closing the Environmental Decade
Oct. 13, 1978  Toxic Substance Control
Feb. 27, 1976  Pollution Control: Costs and Benefits
Nov. 28, 1975  Forest Policy
May 30, 1975  Wilderness Preservation
Dec. 20, 1974  Environmental Policy
Nov. 14, 1973  Strip Mining
Dec. 01, 1971  Global Pollution
Jul. 21, 1971  Protection of the Countryside
Jan. 06, 1971  Pollution Technology
Jun. 19, 1968  Protection of the Environment
Oct. 30, 1963  Noise Suppression
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Forests and Rangelands
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