The Secretary of the Interior has the authority to withdraw lands in Federal ownership, effectively removing an area of Federal land from settlement, sale, location, or entry for the purpose of limiting activities under those laws to maintain other public values in the area or reserving the area for a particular public purpose or program. Withdrawals are also used to transfer jurisdiction over an area of Federal land from one Department, bureau, or agency to another. 

Public lands may also be withdrawn and reserved for military training and testing in support of national defense requirements.  Military withdrawals and reservations of 5,000 or more acres are authorized by Act of Congress; military withdrawals of less than 5,000 acres are by Secretarial Order.

The Department of the Interior conducts periodic review of the majority of military withdrawals to determine if the lands are still being used for the purpose for which withdrawal was ordered.