A New Landscape

Published: 
Thursday, March 9, 2017

A New Landscape: 8 Ideas for the Interior Department

Any time of transition brings new opportunity. As a new administration settles in Washington and legislators embark upon a new Congress, there is an opportunity to address environmental challenges and economic obstacles related to the management of the nation’s land, water, and other natural resources.

When it comes to land management, the U.S. Department of the Interior plays the widest-ranging and most crucial role of any department of the federal government. Controlling such a vast amount of territory and resources is a major responsibility and a difficult one.

In this PERC Public Lands Report, we outline eight policy ideas that would harness the power of markets and property rights to deliver environmental and economic improvements for the lands, waters, and other resources under the control of the Department of the Interior. 

  1. PUBLIC LANDS MANAGEMENT: Adopt new management approaches that allow greater flexibility and freedom while retaining federal oversight and accountability

  2. NATIONAL PARKS: Make the National Park Service less reliant on politically driven Congressional appropriations

  3. LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND: Reform the LWCF to address critical needs on existing public lands

  4. ENDANGERED SPECIES: Harness economic incentives to enhance wildlife assets

  5. GRAZING POLICY: Resolve rangeland disputes with contracts, not armed conflicts

  6. TRIBAL POLICY: Give tribes more authority over their natural resources

  7. WATER POLICY: Harness markets to make the most of scarce water resources

  8. OIL AND GAS: Adopt market-based measures to reduce conflict and boost revenues while protecting local environmental values



Terry Anderson is the William A. Dunn Distinguished Senior Fellow and former President and Executive Director of PERC as well as the John and Jean De Nault Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He believes that market approaches can be both economically sound and environmentally sensitive. His research helped launch the...
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Hannah Downey is the policy and partnerships coordinator and a research fellow at PERC, helping to move projects along from conception to completion. After being introduced to PERC her freshman year of college, she pursued the ideas of free market environmentalism and became a research assistant as a senior. She graduated from Montana State...
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Holly Fretwell is a Research Fellow at PERC and an adjunct instructor at Montana State University where she has taught  introductory economics, macroeconomics, natural resources and environmental economics. She works with the Foundation for Teaching Economics, giving workshops for  high school teachers to improve their skills in teaching and using...
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Robert H. Nelson is a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and a 2010 Lone Mountain Fellow at PERC. From 1975 to 1993, he worked as a senior economist in the Office of Policy Analysis of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. He is the author of Public Lands and Private Rights: The Failure of Scientific Management, A...
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Shawn Regan is a research fellow and the director of publications at PERC. He holds a M.S. in Applied Economics from Montana State University and degrees in economics and environmental science from Berry College. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Quartz, High Country News, Reason, Regulation, Grist, and Distinctly Montana. Shawn is...
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