Talking Points on the Environment #8
Strict Government Control the Source of Federal Land Problems, Not the
Solution to It
- Overgrazing on public range land occurs because of federal dictates, not
in spite of them. Ranchers are required to run a fixed number of cattle on
leased federal land -- whether the land can sustain them or not. If ranchers
choose not to graze the specified number of cattle, they can lose their leases.
Ranchers should be permitted to forego cattle grazing in favor of
environment-friendly -- and profitable -- uses.
- National Forests are over-cut, in part, because recreational activities on
federal lands at the local level are funded through timber sales. Increased
public demand for recreational opportunities results in greater sales of timber
in national forests which in turn can lead to over-cutting in some areas.
Making recreation self-sustaining through user fees would reduce the temptation
to over-cut forests.
- Wilderness designation contributes to over-harvesting in National Forests.
When the federal government takes forest land out of timber production by
designating it a wilderness area, the Forest Service must increase timber sales
in non-wilderness areas to provide infrastructure for recreation, thereby
- Current federal land management policies do not provide incentives for
environmental stewardship. Regardless of the improvements one makes to land,
regardless of how environmentally-responsible a leaseholder behaves , the terms
of his/her lease remain the same. The institution of incentives, including
preferential lease terms, could encourage greater environmental stewardship.
Simply put, if one wishes to encourage responsible behavior, one must make
responsible behavior profitable.
- Federal regulations stifle local-level policy innovations that could
benefit both federal lands and the people who depend on it. Federal land-use
decisions rest largely in the hands of Washington, D.C. bureaucrats -- people
with little understanding of either the land or the ranching, logging and
mining cultures that depend on it. Further, federal statute dictates the
consumptive use of federal lands. Local authorities -- which are closer to the
land and the people -- should be granted greater land-use decision making
Information from "The Changing Western Paradigm" by Jim McMahon
Issue Date: November 10, 1993
Talking Points on the Economy: Environment #8, published by The National
Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct NE, Washington, D.C.
20002 Tel. (202) 543-4110, Fax (202)543-5975, [email protected],
http://www.nationalcenter/inter.net. For more information about Talking Points
on the Economy: Environment #8 contact Bob Adams at 202/543-4110 or
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