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Bureau of Land Management Jobs - History

In 1812, Congress established the General Land Office to administer public lands. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the U.S. Grazing Service to oversee range management. In 1946, the two agencies were merged to form the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a branch of the Department of Interior.

Historically, the BLM has controlled land used for private commercial activity, leasing cheap and sometimes free land to cattle and sheep grazers, the logging and mining industries, and other commercial interests. The federal government originally set low fees for use of these lands to encourage settlement, but today many critics argue that the system is outdated. Furthermore, they say the low- or no-fee policy fosters the view that western land is important only to the extent that it can be commercially exploited. For example, the mining industry pays no fees to use BLM land, but a Congressional report pointed out that the estimated tens of thousands of abandoned mines located there present water and safety hazards. The funding required to clean them up would be a significant burden for taxpayers to assume.

Whenever government raises the fees of cattle and sheep grazing on public lands the extra monies go toward repairing rivers, forests, range lands, and wildlife habitats that have come under strain. It's risky business, raising fees. Many senators worry over the potential losses to industries in their areas ... but there has to be a balance struck between business and maintaining public lands. In recent years there has been much criticism of the subsidies enjoyed by timber, cattle, mining, and other industries that use federal land, but the current administration has stressed its commitment to improving the health of America's range lands and to ensuring fairness to taxpayers. While it will be difficult to completely reverse the flow of subsidies given to commercial interests, it is likely that any new legislation affecting public lands will favor restorative action.

Today the BLM continues to manage and protect public land with a focus on preserving minerals, timber, and other resources for recreational and aesthetic enjoyment as well as commercial interests. The 245 million surface acres managed by BLM - nearly all west of the Mississippi - includes wildlife refuges, recreation areas, portions of scenic rivers and byways, and footpaths like the Pacific Crest Trail.

BLM Employment Information