Our public lands are administrated primarily by four major agencies.

National Parks (NPS)
National Forests (USNF)
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
National Wildlife Refuges (FWS)

National Parks (NPS)

The National Park System administered by the National Park Service (NPS) includes nearly 400 units across America covering 83.6 million acres. These include such iconic grand landscapes represented by such parks as Acadia, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Denali and Yosemite. The National Park Service also manages national historic sites, national monuments, national lakeshores and seashores, national battlefields, cultural areas, national trail system, and other sites. National Parks units are among the best protected lands in America, and managed primarily to protect both cultural and natural values.

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National Forests (USNF)

The National Forest System administered by the United States Forest Service (USFS) includes federal lands that cover 191 million acres in 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The majority of national forests are in the West, including the Tongass which at 16 million acres is larger than Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Other national forests are spread throughout the East, Mid West and South. The national grasslands are located primarily on the Great Plains. Originally set aside to protect watersheds, the national forests increasingly were sought after by timber companies to cut timber. The National Forest system is operated under a multiple use philosophy that includes everything from wilderness protection to resource extraction by mining, logging, oil and gas development and livestock grazing. Today there are over 400,000 miles of roads on national forest lands —most open to motorized use— plus as many as 60,000 miles of unofficial routes and trails.

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Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers 264 million acres —approximately 40% of all public lands in America— primarily in the western states and Alaska. In general BLM lands tend to be drier and less forested than national forest lands. However, the agency manages everything from tundra in Alaska to old growth forests in Oregon to deserts in Arizona and canyons in Utah. The BLM operates under a multiple use mandate which includes livestock grazing, logging, mining, oil development, and other resource extraction. However, increasingly wildlands recreation is gaining prominent as one of the chief values of BLM lands. Currently approximately 93 percent of the BLM lands in the continental United States are currently open to ORV access.

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National Wildlife Refuges (FWS)

The National Wildlife Refuge system is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.(FWS). The agency manages over 540 refuges that cover 95 million acres. There are actually more refuges than national parks, and these lands are home to more 700 bird species, 220 mammal species, 250 reptile and amphibian species. The refuges also support some 200 kinds of fish. America’s refuges are home to 25 percent of all federal threatened and endangered species. Refuges are found in all fifty states, with the 18 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the largest.

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Published . . . . .
Foundation for Deep Ecology
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Distributed . . . . .
Chelsea Green, Nov. 2007
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Edited by . . . . .
George Wuerthner

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George Wuerthner
Foundation for Deep Ecology
Building 1062, Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, California 94965
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