RL33792 - Federal Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS): Issues for the 110th Congress
27-Aug-2008; Ross W. Gorte, Carol Hardy Vincent, Marc Humphries and Kristina Alexander; 27 p.
Update: Previous releases:
October 26, 2008
March 17, 2007
Abstract: The 110th Congress, the Administration, and the courts are considering many issues related to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands and the Forest Service (FS) national forests. Key issues include the following.
Energy Resources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has led to new regulations on the leasing programs and application of environmental laws to certain agency actions. H.R. 6 was enacted as P.L. 110-140 on December 19, 2007, without many of the federal lands provisions considered earlier. Hardrock Mining. The General Mining Law of 1872 allows prospecting for minerals in open public domain lands, and staking a claim, developing the minerals, and applying for a patent to obtain title to the land and minerals. The House passed H.R. 2262 on November 5, 2007, to reform aspects of the General Mining Law.
National Landscape Conservation System. The BLM created the National Landscape Conservation System in 2000 to enhance the focus on specially protected conservation areas. Congress is considering measures to establish the 27 million acre system legislatively and debating the adequacy of funds for the system.
Wilderness. Many agency recommendations for wilderness areas are pending. Questions persist about wilderness review and managing wilderness study areas (WSAs). Fifty wilderness area bills have been introduced this Congress, several have been passed by at least one chamber, and one has been enacted into law.
Wild Horses and Burros. Changes in 2004 to the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 removed the ban on selling certain animals for commercial products; the House passed H.R. 249 on April 26, 2007, to overturn these changes. The BLM continues to dispose of animals by sale, adoption, and long-term holding.
Wildfire Protection. Various initiatives seek to protect communities from wildfires by expanding fuel reduction, and bills have been offered to restore forest health. Concerns over high and rising suppression costs have led to bills for separate wildfire suppression funding accounts.
FS NEPA Application. The FS has proposed altering its process for activity review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), and has added activities that can be categorically excluded from such environmental and public reviews. Many of these changes and proposals have been challenged in court.
Other issues discussed briefly include roadless areas in the National Forest System, national forest planning, national forest county payments, BLM land sales, and grazing management.