Rangeland Management:

Comparison of Rangeland Condition Reports

RCED-91-191: Published: Jul 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 20, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO followed up on its 1988 report on the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) and Forest Service's rangeland management programs, comparing the conclusions and analyzing the findings of two studies conducted by BLM and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on the condition of the public rangeland under BLM jurisdiction.

GAO found that: (1) although NRDC and BLM reports reached different conclusions on the overall condition of the public rangeland, they were not necessarily inconsistent with each other; (2) the different conclusions were attributable more to data interpretation and presentation than to differences in the data; (3) BLM based its conclusion that current range conditions are better than they have been in the past century on studies that lacked supporting documentation and used different methodologies; (4) had BLM calculated its percentages solely on the basis of the land for which it had condition information, as NRDC did, its percentage of rangeland in fair or poor condition would have increased to 61 percent, much closer to the NRDC percentage; and (5) NRDC concluded that the data presented in its report did not show any significant improvement in rangeland condition over the data in its 1985 rangeland status report, and BLM noted that no substantial change should be expected to occur within only a 4-year period.

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