60 years of the BLM

Part 7 - A New Agency is Born

[Text from History of the BLM video, part 7]

Slide #41 History/New Agency Born (title)

  • These changing times and Americans’ new appreciation for the value of their public land resources gave birth to a new agency.

Slide#42 BLM Created in 1946

  • In a reorganization of several government agencies signed by President Harry Truman, the Grazing Service (created by the Taylor Grazing Act) and the General Land Office were merged.
  • The new agency was called the Bureau of Land Management --
  • and its jurisdiction spanned what remained of the vast public domain, stretching 175 million acres, mostly from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Slide#43 BLMers in the Field

  • These new “BLMers” were a rugged group—
  • Made up of range experts, landsmen, surveyors, and others.
  • They were not your typical government “bureaucrats” –
  • Their challenge was to administer hundreds of sometimes conflicting public land laws passed by Congress, some dating back one-hundred and fifty years.

Slide#44 Fred Johnson and Interior Bldg.

  • Being a national agency, however, BLM’s leadership was set up in Washington DC.
  • Its first director was Fred Johnson, and with most of his 695 employees two to three thousand miles away—
  • He set up shop in a new building near the White House, built by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes during World War two.

Slide#45 Marion Clawson

  • A new director was named in 1948, a visionary by the name of Marion Clawson.
  • Armed with an agricultural degree from Harvard, Clawson recognized the strength of the agency laying its field offices out West.
  • He decentralized the BLM, moving as much decision-making authority as he could out West where the public lands were.
  • He also recognized managing land stirred controversy, once declaring, “to keep BLM galloping, a certain amount of hooping and hollerin’ is necessary.”

60 Years of the BLM - History video, part 7: broadband, dial-up