Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

Western Oregon BLM Federal Public Forestlands:

Federal Land Management Serves the Public Interest Better than Private Land Management

It has been suggested that federal public lands could be "better managed" in private (or its effective equivalent in "trust") ownership. Proponents says that more revenues will go to counties and management costs will be less. They are right about that. If you log, graze and/or mine the hell out of a piece of ground and are not constrained by any statutory or moral obligations to conserve imperiled species, keep the water clean and not degrade the scenery to that of a moonscape, then yes more money will flow to counties and the overhead will be lower. However, perhaps feeling guilty that it is just about the money (or at least calculating enough to know that one's argument may go down better if one can also claim that that privatizing [or trustifying] federal public lands is also good for nature), proponents also often claim that the environment will be better served as well as the special interests who stand to benefit from privatizing lands and resources that belong to all Americans. Such an assertion is a load of crap.

On the left, a square mile section of private industrial timberlands, almost entirely clearcut. On the right, a partially logged section of federal public forestlands. Located in the in the McKenzie River watershed in Lane County. The darker color and coarser texture signifies older forest. (Google Maps).

Doug Heiken, Conservation and Restoration Coordinator, Oregon Wild ( has produced an eight-page paper entitled "Federal Land Management Serves the Public Interest Better than Private Land Management." From its introduction:

Those seeking to increase logging on federal forestland or transfer control of federal lands to non-federal interests often argue that such transfers will result in higher outputs of timber. In making their case, proponents of increased logging often make misleading claims that public values and ecosystem services will also improve. They are wrong.

Increased logging comes at a cost. Studies comparing land management on federal and non-federal lands consistently show that federal lands are ecologically superior and provide better ecosystem services, compared to non-federal lands. Federal public lands generally have lower rates of disturbance and lower road densities resulting in higher water quality, better habitat for fish and wildlife, greater contributions to recovery of endangered species, greater carbon storage, less hazardous fuel profiles, and better recreation and amenity values.

Furthermore, the relatively greater provision of public values on federal public lands helps mitigate for the degradation of public values on non-federal lands that are managed for primarily for private profit.

The following survey of analyses show the many ways in which management of federal lands better serve the public interest compared to non-federal land management.

Heiken then quotes (with citations) 24 different analyses that contrast the absurd assertion that nature is better served by convert federal public forestlands to industrial private timberlands.