America's Public Lands: From Yellowstone to Smokey Bear and by Randall K. Wilson

By Randall K. Wilson

How is it that the United States—the kingdom that cherishes the fitting of non-public estate greater than the other within the world—has selected to put aside approximately one-third of its territory as public lands? contemplating this exciting query, Randall ok. Wilson strains the often-forgotten rules of nature that experience formed the evolution of America’s public land method. the result's a clean and probing account of the main urgent coverage and administration demanding situations dealing with nationwide parks, forests, rangelands, and natural world refuges today.

The writer explores the dramatic tale of the origins of the general public area, together with the century-long push towards privatization and the next emergence of a countrywide conservation excellent. Arguing that we can't absolutely comprehend one kind of public land with out realizing its relation to the remainder of the approach, he presents in-depth debts of the different sorts of public lands. together with chapters on nationwide parks, nationwide forests, natural world refuges, Bureau of Land administration lands, and desert components, Wilson examines key turning issues and significant coverage debates for every land style. He considers questions of bison and elk administration and up to date disputes over hearth coverage, roadless components, mining claims, and grazing charges. This complete review deals an opportunity to reconsider our courting with America’s public lands, together with what it says concerning the manner we relate to, and cost, nature within the United States.

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Extra resources for America's Public Lands: From Yellowstone to Smokey Bear and Beyond

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For some commentators, there no longer remained any place where one might find uncharted, untouched, or otherwise “wild” lands in the United States. 18 In terms of privatizing the public domain, the General Lands Office, which oversaw both the lawful exercise and rampant abuse of the land disposal laws, grants, and incentive programs, had done its job well. Arguably, the disposal of the public domain was the first national environmental policy in the United States. indb 35 3/13/14 9:52 AM 36 Chapter 2 programs, and regulatory agencies worked feverishly to transfer the national commons into private ownership.

Indb 17 3/13/14 9:52 AM 18 Chapter 1 over 388 million acres were transferred to the United States, including modern-day California, Nevada, Utah, and portions of Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming. In return the United States paid Mexico $18 million and agreed to respect existing property and land grant claims by Mexican citizens—though in practice these promises were frequently ignored. Five years later, the United States once again approached the Mexican government seeking additional land to enable the construction of a southern transcontinental railroad line (what would become the Southern Pacific).

Federal laws operated under the assumption that the highest and best use of the public domain was either for mining or agricultural development as practiced in the eastern United States. Accordingly, the 160-acre allotments in the Homestead Act were premised on the average farm size east of the Mississippi River, where soil and climatic conditions allowed them to prosper. But whereas 160 acres constituted a viable farming operation in Pennsylvania or Ohio, it did not suffice in the arid conditions of western Kansas or Arizona.

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