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History Features

The features in this collection highlight the history of the public lands, including writings from former Secretaries of the Interior Cecil D. Andrus and Bruce Babbitt, and distinguished American historian Patty Limerick, faculty director of the University of Colorado's Center of the American West.  This collection also contains a digital copy of the 1988 book Opportunity and Challenge:  The Story of BLM, and a list of historic sites to visit.  You can find the most recent material by clicking this link.

Phot of a wagon train,

Is Democracy Compatible with Conservation?
By Patricia Nelson Limerick 

If you pay attention to the history of the Bureau of Land Management, you will soon be wrestling with one of the most consequential questions of the last two centuries.


Thumbnail of Bruce BabbitThe National Landscape Conservation System
By Bruce Babbitt

I began thinking seriously about the conservation future of the BLM in 1993.  Congress was debating the California Desert Protection Act, a major land protection bill that would transfer 1 million acres from the BLM to the National Park Service.

The Battle to Conserve the “Crown Jewels”
By Cecil D. Andrus

The Alaska Lands Act more than doubled the national park, refuge, and wilderness acreage in Alaska and resolved decades of debate about what portion of America’s “crown jewels” should be forever maintained as places of unspoiled beauty and solitude.

Drawing by Tom Novak.Finding the Story in History
By Joyce Badgley Hunsaker

Putting a face—and personality—on 184 years of public land laws is a daunting task.


Thumbnail image of a log house with a sod roof.From Soddy to Suburb
By Wilma Gundy

The home I first remember, from the age of 3 in 1931, was a sod house on the arid, treeless plains of eastern Colorado.  It was near Shaw, a combination grocery, gas station, and post office.


Thumbnail photo of a ghost town in Montana.

Historic Sites:  Helping to Tell the BLM Story
Compiled by BLM

Ghost towns, mining camps, homesteads — many places still bear remnants of days gone by and can give visitors a glimpse into what life may have been like for early settlers and pioneers. 


Photo of cowboys kneeling and looking at something. Opportunity and Challenge:  The Story of BLM
By James Muhn and Hanson R. Stuart

First published in 1988 and now available online, this book explores the broad aspects of public land policy and the growth of the BLM into a multiple-use management agency.


Photo of men in shirts and ties Historical Record of the Offices and Office Managers of the BLM and its predecessor agencies, the Grazing Service, the General Land Office, and the O & C Revested Lands Administration, 1934-2012 
By Glen Collins, Public Lands Foundation

This resource document provides a unique historical record of BLM offices and principal line office managers.

Thumbnail image of a soldier near the American flag in Iwo Jima.World War II and Its Connection to the Origin of the BLM
By Robert King

After World War II ended in 1945, the nation was left with the task of changing to a peacetime economy.  The same was true for the federal government.


Thumbnail image of a group of men and women walking on a dirt trial near tall cacti and desert brush.The Value of BLM’s Wild Side
By Luther Propst

BLM-managed lands and the activities that take place on them contribute significantly to the economies of local communities as well as to the country.

New:  A list of the latest material posted on Our Heritage, Our FutureGo to list »