But will the new interior secretary take on the federal-lands bureaucracy?
Volume 36, No.1, Summer 2017
For all their wonder and beauty, public lands are as polarizing as the rest of our political landscape. That should come as no surprise. After all, the federal government owns nearly one-third of the United States, including almost half of the American West. Decisions about how to manage public lands are fundamentally political, and they affect the lives of millions of people. Yet the laws and regulations governing these lands tend to encourage conflict rather than cooperation, and disputes are more likely to be resolved by litigation than by collaboration.
It’s clear that innovation is possible—and sorely needed. Thanks to the support of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, this issue of PERC Reports explores the future of America’s public lands. It reflects the spirit of what economist and public land expert Marion Clawson wrote in 1984: “I reject any idea that we today are less imaginative and resourceful than the men and women who pressed for the establishment of the national forests, national parks, and grazing districts. We too can innovate; let us try.” That’s still true today—so let’s try.