It is the mission of the Bureau of Land Management to sustain the health, diversity and
productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future
Map: Public Lands Managed by the BLM
This map is available online in larger sizes for viewing and downloading. Click on the
filenames to view the larger images:
Map of BLM administered jurisdictions, including: BLM-Administered Lands, BLM State Jurisdictions, BLM State Offices, BLM National Monuments, Field Office Jurisdictions, Field Offices, BLM National Conservation Areas, County Lines and Field Stations.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing 258 million acres of land--about one-eighth of the land in the United States--and approximately 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources.
- Most of the lands the BLM manages are located in the western United States, including
Alaska, and are dominated by extensive grasslands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra,
and deserts. The BLM manages a wide variety of resources and uses, including energy and
minerals; timber; forage; wild horse and burro populations; fish and wildlife habitat;
wilderness areas; archaeological, paleontological, and historical sites; and other natural
- The Bureau of Land Management administers public lands within a framework of numerous
laws. The most comprehensive of these is the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of
1976 (FLPMA). All Bureau policies, procedures and management actions must be consistent
with FLPMA and the other laws that govern use of the public lands.
History of the BLM
The BLM's roots go back to the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of
1787. These laws provided for the survey and settlement of the lands that the original 13
colonies ceded to the Federal government after the War of Independence.
As additional lands were acquired by the United States from Spain, France, and other
countries, Congress directed that they be explored, surveyed, and made available for
settlement. In 1812, Congress established the General Land Office in the Department of the
Treasury to oversee the disposition of these Federal lands. As the 19th century progressed
and the Nation's land base expanded further west, Congress encouraged the settlement of
the land by enacting a wide variety of laws, including the Homesteading Laws and the
Mining Law of 1872.
These statutes served one of the major policy goals of the young country-- settlement
of the Western territories. With the exception of the Mining Law of 1872 and the Desert
Land Act of 1877 (which was amended), all have since been repealed or superseded by other
The late 19th century marked a shift in Federal land management priorities with the
creation of the first national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. By withdrawing these
lands from settlement, Congress signaled a shift in the policy goals served by the public
lands. Instead of using them to promote settlement, Congress recognized that they should
be held in public ownership because of their other resource values.
In the early 20th century, Congress took additional steps toward recognizing the value
of the assets on public lands and directed the Executive Branch to manage activities on
the remaining public lands. The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 allowed leasing, exploration,
and production of selected commodities such as coal, oil, gas, and sodium to take place on
public lands. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the U.S. Grazing Service to
manage the public rangelands. And the Oregon and California (O&C) Act of August 28,
1937, required sustained yield management of the timberlands in western Oregon.
In 1946, the Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau
of Land Management within the Department of the Interior. When the BLM was initially
created, there were over 2,000 unrelated and often conflicting laws for managing the
public lands. The BLM had no unified legislative mandate until Congress enacted the
Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA).
In FLPMA, Congress recognized the value of the remaining public lands by declaring that
these lands would remain in public ownership. Congress also gave us the term
"multiple use" management, defined as "management of the public lands and
their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best
meet the present and future needs of the American people."
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The BLM Today
Increasingly, the BLM has had to address the needs of a growing and changing West. Ten
of the 12 western States with significant proportions of BLM-managed lands have among the
fastest rates of population growth in the United States.
The American public values balanced use, conservation, environmental management,
recreation, and tourism. Public lands are increasingly viewed from the perspective of the
recreational opportunities they offer, their cultural resources, and--in an increasingly
urban world--their vast open spaces. However, against this backdrop, the more traditional
land uses of grazing, timber production, and mining are still in high demand.
The BLM's task is to recognize the demands of public land users while addressing the
needs of traditional user groups and working within smaller budgets. Fortunately, the
public, constituent groups, and other agencies and levels of government have proven eager
to participate in collaborative decisionmaking. These diverse partners have joined with us
in developing many partnerships that benefit the public lands and everyone who relies on
Perhaps one of the Bureau's greatest challenges today is to develop more effective land
management practices, while becoming more efficient at the same time. We are proud of the
significant steps we and our partners have already taken to reduce administrative costs,
streamline work processes, focus on customer service, and improve accountability to the
As the BLM is entering the 21st century, we look forward to continuing
our service to the public while strengthening our partnerships with
all who use or care about the public lands. Working together, all of
us can succeed in restoring and maintaining the health, diversity, and
productivity of America's public lands for the use and enjoyment of
present and future generations.
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