Management of the Public Lands by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service

T-RCED-90-24: Published: Feb 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 6, 1990.

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GAO discussed the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) and Forest Service's management of public lands. GAO found that: (1) Congress required BLM to manage federal lands using multiple-use and sustained-yield principles to ensure perpetual maintenance of the land's productive capacity and balanced land management to benefit all uses; (2) BLM historical deference to special interests led to management actions that were inconsistent with those principles; (3) BLM progress in implementing an effective wildlife management plan was hampered by inadequate resources and its willingness to allow competing interests to routinely take precedence over wildlife interests when conflicts arose; (4) more than 13 years after legislation required land use plans, BLM had completed less than half of the required plans; (5) BLM rarely used strong penalties to enforce grazing trespass regulations and often made key oil and gas lease decisions without adequate information on potential environmental impacts; and (6) although BLM has made aggressive improvement efforts, it has met much resistance from those that benefited from its historical management practices. GAO also found that: (1) inadequate funding and staffing contributed to the Forest Service's backlog of trail maintenance and reconstruction; and (2) the Forest Service did not know the full extent of resource deterioration in some wilderness areas and it could not develop, operate and maintain many of its special recreation areas because of funding shortfalls.

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