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Federal Land/Water/Wildlife Resource Agencies

On-line Lesson

Nationwide Acreage
Federal Land Management Agencies 
Bureau of Land Management  270.0 million 
U.S. Forest Service  191.0 million
U.S. Fish & Wildlife    93.0 million
National Park System    83.6 million

Chapter 7 - Federal Agencies: National Park Service

National Park Service

 

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, a new federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for protecting the 40 current and all future national parks and monuments. 

This "Organic Act" of August 25, 1916, states that "the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations . . . by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." 

The National Park System of the United States comprises 378 areas covering more than 83 million acres in 49 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. These areas are of such national significance as to justify special recognition and protection in accordance with various acts of Congress. 

National park areas are primarily managed for single use instead of multiple use. This promotes the specific preservation and/or wilderness experience for each park.

The largest area is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. At 13,200,000 acres it is 16.3 percent of the entire system. The smallest unit in the system is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, at 0.02 of an acre. 

National Park System Designations

The numerous designations within the National Park System were created in the Congressional legislation authorizing the sites or by the president, who proclaims "national monuments" under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Many names are descriptive -- lakeshores, seashores, battlefields --but others cannot be neatly categorized because of the diversity of resources within them. In 1970, Congress elaborated on the 1916 National Park Service Organic Act, saying all units of the system have equal legal standing in a national system.

National Park: These are generally large natural places having a wide variety of attributes, at times including significant historic assets. Hunting, mining and consumptive activities are not authorized.

National Monument: The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized the President to declare by public proclamation landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest situated on lands owned or controlled by the government to be national monuments.

National Preserve: National preserves are areas having characteristics associated with national parks, but in which Congress has permitted continued public hunting, trapping, oil/gas exploration and extraction. Many existing national preserves, without sport hunting, would qualify for national park designation.

Everglades National Park, FL

National Historic Site: Usually, a national historic site contains a single historical feature that was directly associated with its subject. Derived from the Historic Sites Act of 1935, a number of historic sites were established by secretaries of the Interior, but most have been authorized by acts of Congress.

National Historic Park: This designation generally applies to historic parks that extend beyond single properties or buildings.

National Memorial: A national memorial is commemorative of a historic person or episode; it need not occupy a site historically connected with its subject.

National Battlefield: This general title includes national battlefield, national battlefield park, national battlefield site, and national military park. In 1958, an NPS committee recommended national battlefield as the single title for all such park lands.

National Cemetery: There are presently 14 national cemeteries in the National Park System, all of which are administered in conjunction with an associated unit and are not accounted for separately.

National Recreation Area: Twelve NRAs in the system are centered on large reservoirs and emphasize water-based recreation. Five other NRAs are located near major population centers. Such urban parks combine scarce open spaces with the preservation of significant historic resources and important natural areas in location that can provide outdoor recreation for large numbers of people.

National Seashore: Ten national seashores have been established on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts; some are developed and some relatively primitive. Hunting is allowed at many of these sites.

National Lakeshore: National lakeshores, all on the Great Lakes, closely parallel the seashores in character and use.

National River: There are several variations to this category: national river and recreation area, national scenic river, wild river, etc. The first was authorized in 1964 and others were established following passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

National Parkway: The title parkway refers to a roadway and the parkland paralleling the roadway. All were intended for scenic motoring along a protected corridor and often connect cultural sites.

National Trail: National scenic trails and national historic trails are the titles given to these linear parklands (over 3,600 miles) authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968.

Affiliated Areas: In an Act of August 18, 1970, the National Park System was defined in law as, "any area of land and water now or hereafter administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service for park, monument, historic, parkway, recreational or other purposes." The Affiliated Areas comprise a variety of locations in the United States and Canada that preserve significant properties outside the National Park System. Some of these have been recognized by Acts of Congress, others have been designated national historic sites by the Secretary of the Interior under authority of the Historic Sites Act of 1935. All draw on technical or financial aid from the National Park Service.

Other Designations: Some units of the National Park System bear unique titles or combinations of titles, like the White House and Prince William Forest Park.

National Park System Units As of 11/1998

International Historic Site - 1
National Battlefields - 11
National Battlefield Parks - 3
National Battlefield Site - 1 
National Historic Sites - 77
National Historical Parks - 38
National Lakeshores - 4
National Memorials - 28
National Military Parks - 9
National Monuments - 73
National Parks - 55
National Parkways - 4
National Preserves - 16
National Recreation Areas - 19
National Reserve - 2
National Rivers - 6
National Scenic Trails - 3
National Seashores - 10
National Wild and Scenic Rivers - 9
Parks (other) - 11
Total: 380

List of Units in the National Park System

Statue of Liberty, NY

How National Parks are Created

Eligibility requirements for areas to be considered as additions to the National Park System

To be eligible for favorable consideration as a unit of the National Park System, an area must:

  1. Possess nationally significant natural, cultural, or recreational resources; 

  2. Be a suitable and feasible addition to the system; and 

  3. Require direct NPS management instead of protection by some other government agency or by the private sector. 

1) National Significance

A proposed unit will be considered nationally significant if it meets all four the following standards. 

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It is an outstanding example of a particular type of recourse. 

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It possesses exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the natural or cultural themes of our Nation's heritage. 

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It offers superlative opportunities for recreation, for public use and enjoyment, or for scientific study. 

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It retains a high degree of integrity as a true, accurate, and relatively unspoiled example of the resource. 

Resource Evaluation The following examples of natural, cultural, and recreational areas are considered in evaluating the significance of a proposal for addition to the National Park System. 

Natural Area examples may include: 

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an outstanding site that illustrates the characteristics of a land form or biotic area that is still widespread

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a rare remnant natural landscape or biotic area of a type that was once widespread but is now vanishing due to human settlement and development

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a land form or biotic area that has always been extremely uncommon in the region or Nation

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a site that possesses exceptional diversity of ecological components (species, communities, or habitats) or geological features (land forms, observable manifestations of geological processes)  

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a site that contains biotic species or communities whose natural distribution at that location makes them unusual (for example, a relatively large population at the limit of its range or an isolated population)

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a site that harbors a concentrated population of a rare plant or animal species, particularly one officially recognized as threatened or endangered 

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a critical refuge that is necessary for the continued survival of a species 

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a site that contains rare or unusually abundant fossil deposits 

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an area that has outstanding scenic qualities such as dramatic topographic features, unusual contrasts in land forms or vegetation, spectacular vistas, or other special landscapes features 

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a site that is an invaluable ecological or geological benchmark due to an extensive and long-term record of research and scientific discovery. 

Cultural Areas may be districts, sites, structures, or objects that possess exceptional
value or quality in illustrating or interpreting our heritage and that possess a high degree
of integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.
Specific examples include:

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a resource that is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to and are identified with, or that outstandingly represent the broad national patterns of United States history and from which an understanding appreciation of those patterns may be gained 

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a resource that is importantly associated with the lives of persons nationally significant in the history of the United States 

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a resource that represents some great idea or ideal of the American people 

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a resource that embodies distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type specimen, exceptionally valuable for study of a period, style, or method of construction, or represents a significant, distinctive, and exceptional entity whose components may lack individual distinction 

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a resource that is composed of integral parts of the environment not sufficiently significant by reason of historical association or artistic merit to warrant individual recognition but collectively composes an entity of exceptional historical or artistic significance, or outstanding commemorates or illustrates a way of life or culture 

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a resource that has yielded or may be likely to yield information of major scientific importance by revealing new cultures, or by shedding light upon periods of occupation over large areas of the United States.

Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, and reconstructed historic buildings and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years are not considered to be appropriate as additions to the National Park System unless they have transcendent importance, unless they possess inherent architectural or artistic significance, or unless no other site associated with their name remains. 

Recreational Area examples include:

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a natural or cultural feature that provides a special setting for a variety of recreational activities different from those available at the local or regional level 

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a spacious area that is located near a major population center with the potential to provide exceptional recreational opportunities and to serve visitors from around the nation rather than solely from immediate vicinity 

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an area that protects a unique recreation resource that is scarce and disappearing in a multi-stage region such as an outstanding recreational river, a unique maritime environment or coastline, or unique scenic area 

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a resource that is a unique combination of natural, cultural, and recreational features that collectively offer outstanding opportunities for public use and enjoyment even though each feature might not individually be considered nationally significant.

2) Suitability and Feasibility
An area that is nationally significant also must meet criteria for suitability and feasibility to qualify as a potential addition to the National Park Service System. To be suitable for inclusion in the system an area must represent a natural or cultural theme or type of recreational resource that is not already adequately represented in the National Park System or not comparably and protected for public enjoyment by another land-managing entity. Adequacy of representation is determined on a case-by-case basis by comparing the proposed area to other units in the National Park System for differences or similarities in the character, quality, quantity, or combination of resources, and opportunities for public enjoyment. 

To be Feasible as a new unit of the National Park System an area's natural systems and/or historic settings must be of sufficient size and appropriate configuration to ensure long-term protection of the resources and to accommodate public use. It must have potential for efficient administration at a reasonable cost. Important feasibility factors include landownership, acquisition costs, access, threats to the resource, and staff or development requirements. 

3) Management Options
Alternatives to National Park Service management might adequately protect resources even if they are significant, suitable, and feasible additions to the system. Studies of potential new park units evaluate management by state or local governments, Indian tribes, the private sector, or other federal agencies; technical or financial assistance from established programs or special projects; management by others as a designated national natural landmark, a national historic landmark, a national scenic river, a national trail, a biosphere reserve, a state or local park, or some other specially designated and protected area; or cooperative management between the National Park Service and other entities. Alternatives involving other federal agencies include designation of federal lands as wilderness, areas of critical environmental concern, national conservation areas, national recreation areas, marine or estuarine sanctuaries, and national wildlife refuges. Additions to the National Park System will not usually be recommended if another arrangement can provide adequate protection and opportunity for public enjoyment. 

National Park Service Regions

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Alaska Area Region

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Northeast Region

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Midwest Region 

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National Capital Region 

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Intermountain Region 

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Southeast Region 

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Pacific West Region

Unique Park Areas

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Parks in the Nation's Capital

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Urban Parks: Gateway National Recreation Area is only one example of the many national park service urban parks.

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Wild and Scenic Rivers

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National Trails

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Wilderness Areas

How Safe is That National Park? A great article on the dangers, not just from animals, found in national parks.

Chapter 8 - Federal Agencies: U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Forest Service

Congress established the Forest Service in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the Nation’s benefit. Over the years, the public has expanded the list of what they want from national forests and grasslands. Congress responded by directing the Forest Service to manage national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. Multiple use means managing resources under the best combination of uses to benefit the American people while ensuring the productivity of the land and protecting the quality of the environment. 

National forests are America’s Great Outdoors. They encompass 191 million acres (77.3 million hectares) of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas. National forests provide opportunities for recreation in open spaces and natural environments. With more and more people living in urban areas, national forests are becoming more important and valuable to Americans. People enjoy a wide variety of activities on national forests, including backpacking in remote, unroaded wilderness areas, all-terrain vehicles, enjoying the views along a scenic byway, or fishing in a great trout stream, are a few of the many recreation opportunities in national forests and grasslands.

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National Forests (list)

National Grasslands

National Grasslands are rich in mineral, oil and gas resources. They also provide diverse recreational uses, such as mountain bicycling, hiking, hunting, fishing, photographing, birding and just sightseeing. Fossils, prehistoric and historic resources, as well as many cultural sites are being discovered. The national grasslands are being managed to protect these important legacy resources. The National Grasslands are important lands managed for sustainable multiple uses as part of the National Forest System. They have made important contributions to conserving grassland ecosystems while producing a variety of goods and services which, in turn, have helped to maintain rural economies and lifestyles.

Examples of Multiple-use Activities

Cattle grazing, NM

All-terrain-vehicles, FL

Oil drilling, TX

RV campgrounds

Hiking

Rafting

Forest Service Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles 

Mission: Caring for the Land and Serving People

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The phrase, "CARING FOR THE LAND AND SERVING PEOPLE," captures the Forest Service mission. As set forth in law, the mission is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people: It includes:

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Advocating a conservation ethic in promoting the health, productivity, diversity, and beauty of forests and associated lands. 

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Listening to people and responding to their diverse needs in making decisions. 

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Protecting and managing the National Forests and Grasslands so they best demonstrate the sustainable multiple-use management concept. 

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Providing technical and financial assistance to State and private forest landowners, encouraging them to practice good stewardship and quality land management in meeting their specific objectives. 

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Providing technical and financial assistance to cities and communities to improve their natural environment by planting trees and caring for their forests. 

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Providing international technical assistance and scientific exchanges to sustain and enhance global resources and to encourage quality land management. 

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Helping States and communities to wisely use the forests to promote rural economic development and a quality rural environment. 
Developing and providing scientific and technical knowledge aimed at improving our capability to protect, manage, and use forests and rangelands. 

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Providing work, training, and education to the unemployed, underemployed, elderly, youth, and disadvantaged in pursuit of our mission.
 

Recreation Roads, Trails and Rivers
National Forest Scenic Byways 136 (9,126 miles)
Wild and Scenic Rivers 95 (4,418 miles)
Trails 133,087 miles
Scenic and Historic Trails 6,709 miles

Forest Service Organization

There are four levels of national forest offices: 

Ranger District: The district ranger and his or her staff may be your first point of contact with the Forest Service. There are more than 600 ranger districts. Each district has a staff of 10 to 100 people. The districts vary in size from 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) to more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares). Many activities occur on the ranger districts, including trail construction and maintenance, operation of campgrounds, and management of vegetation and wildlife habitat. 

National Forest: There are 155 national forests and 22 national grasslands. Each forest is composed of several ranger districts. The person in charge of a national forest is called the forest supervisor. The district rangers from the districts within a forest work for the forest supervisor. The headquarters of a national forest is called the supervisor’s office. This level coordinates activities between districts, allocates the budget, and provides technical support to each district. 

Region: There are 9 regions, numbered 1 through 10. The regions are broad geographic areas, usually including several States. The person in charge is called the regional forester. Forest supervisors of the national forests within a region report to the regional forester. The regional office staff coordinates activities between national forests, monitors activities on national forests to ensure quality operations, provides guidance for forest plans, and allocates budgets to the forests. 

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Region 1 (Northern) 

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Region 2 (Rocky Mountain) 

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Region 3 (Southwestern) 

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Region 4 (Intermountain) 

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Region 5 (Pacific Southwest) 

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Region 6 (Pacific Northwest)

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Region 7 was eliminated, and it's lands merged into other regions.

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Region 8 (Southern) 

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Region 9 (Eastern) 

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Region 10 (Alaska) 

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Other Forests : Urban National Forests 

National Level: This is commonly called the Washington Office. The person who oversees the entire Forest Service is called the Chief . The Chief is a Federal employee who reports to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Chief’s staff provides broad policy and direction for the agency, works with the President’s Administration to develop a budget to submit to Congress, provides information to Congress on accomplishments, and monitors activities of the agency. 

Recreation Involvement

The Recreation Agenda (1999 draft)

This document supports the Forest Service Strategic Plan, the Results Act, and the Natural Resource Agenda in clarifying the role of national forests in meeting America's recreational needs. This is a framework for defining principles, processes, and priorities for the long term and will lead to the development of tools that will enable decision-makers to assure accountability of resources. It provides a blueprint that will guide plans for communications, funding, and implementation. The Agenda reflects the concerns and interests of public and private stakeholders based on six months of meetings throughout the country

National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE 2000)

The overall goal of the study was to assess and improve the accuracy of recreation visit estimates to National Forest system managed lands.

Top national activity participation were: 

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walk for pleasure 84.85%, 

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Family gathering 73.85%

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Sightseeing 63.04%, 

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Swimming 60.79%,

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Visit nature centers 59.27%, and

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Driving for pleasure 53.66%, 

 


Woodsy Owl

Recreation.Gov is a partnership among federal land management agencies aimed at providing a single, easy-to-use web site with information about all federal recreation areas. The site allows you to search for recreation areas by state, by recreational activity, by agency, or by map. 

Recreation.Gov includes information about: 
371 National Parks
114 National Forests
422 National Wildlife Refuges
260 Bureau of Land Management sites
457 Army Corps of Engineers sites
241 Bureau of Reclamation sites 

Public Lands Information Center

Public Lands Interpretive Association initiated the Public Lands Information Center project in response to demand for a single source of information
about recreation and land use on all public lands in a state, regardless of managing agency.

Recreation Fee Demonstration Project

In 1996, Congress authorized the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program (fee demo) through Public Law 104-134 (as amended), for the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The intent of the program is to test entrance and user fees that are reinvested in federal lands where people recreate, to maintain and improve the natural resource, recreation facilities, and services. Each agency may charge fees at up to 100 projects. The Forest Service is testing fees at 81 projects in 34 states and in all regions of the country, including Puerto Rico.

Chapter 9 - Federal Agencies: Bureau of Land Management

Bureau of Land Management

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. 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 statutes. 

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." 

Public Lands Managed by the BLM (map)

BLM Mission:

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 generations. 

Recreation Involvement

Red Rock Canyon, NCA, NV

The Bureau of Land Management's outdoor recreation mission is to sustain healthy land and water resources while providing quality visitor services. BLM's overall vision for outdoor recreation is "Visitors renewing their relationships with the land and respecting local cultures while enjoying quality recreation activities." 

The BLM provides resource-dependent recreational opportunities in a variety of settings that typify the vast western landscapes of the 11 public land states. These diverse settings range from the tundra in Alaska to the deserts of the Southwest, and from the old-growth forests of the Northwest to the plateaus and plains of the Rocky Mountain states. As a national provider of recreation, the BLM focuses on its niche -- providing resource-based versus facilities-based recreation and tourism opportunities. BLM emphasizes visitors' freedom to pursue unstructured recreation opportunities as long as the visitor accepts the responsibility to use public lands wisely and to respect other visitors and local residents. 

Visitors participate in a variety of activities on public lands. Most individuals, groups, and families participate in more than one activity per visit. The BLM stresses the use of education and interpretation to encourage visitors' knowledge, appreciation, and safe enjoyment of public land resources. Responsible use is encouraged by BLM and its partners through land use ethics programs such as Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace! In addition, the BLM is also working with other agencies and partner organizations to improve accessibility to public lands and recreation facilities for all visitors, including people with disabilities and public land visitors from diverse cultural backgrounds. 

Recreation and leisure opportunities and the resources they are derived from play a critical role in the growing tourism economies of local communities and the nation. The BLM provides recreation opportunities in areas having national, as well as regional and local, importance. Areas of national importance, designated Congressionally or Administratively, include

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34 National Wild and Scenic Rivers (2,038 miles); 

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136 Wilderness Areas (5.2 million acres) and 

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622 Wilderness Study Areas (17.3 million acres); 

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37 National Recreation, Historic, or Scenic Trails (4,527 miles); 

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one National Monument - Escalante National Monument - (1.9 million acres); 

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one National Recreation Area (1 million acres); 

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one National Scenic Area (101,000 acres), and 

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64 National Back Country Byways (3,518 miles). 

Some visitors to public lands benefit directly by participating in consumptive activities (i.e., hunting and fishing) or nonconsumptive wildlife-related activities (e.g., birdwatching, camping, hiking, and photography). Secondary benefits from wildlife-related activities on public lands accrue to community businesses that benefit from the sale of equipment, services, food, lodging, and transportation to public land visitors, and to state wildlife agencies that manage wildlife populations through both consumptive and non-consumptive activities. 

Recreational Use by Activity  Groupings (1998)

Public Lands Information Center

Public Lands Interpretive Association initiated the Public Lands Information Center project in response to demand for a single source of information
about recreation and land use on all public lands in a state, regardless of managing agency.

Chapter 10 - Federal Agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In 1939 the Bureaus of Fisheries and Biological Survey are moved to the Department of the Interior and the following year combined to create the Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. 

The Service manages the 93-million acre National Wildlife Refuge System of more than 520 national wildlife refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries through its National Fisheries Program, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. 

Among its key functions, the Service:
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  enforces Federal wildlife laws (Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs)

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protects endangered species, (Endangered Species Program )

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manages migratory birds, (Migratory Bird Programs)

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restores nationally significant fisheries, (National Fisheries Program)

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conserves and restores wildlife, (Division of Habitat Conservation)

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conserves and restores, (National Wetlands Inventory)

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helps foreign governments with their international conservation efforts,

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oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies

Alligator in the Okefenokee NWR, GA

The vast majority of fish and wildlife habitat is on non-Federal lands. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Partners in Flight, Sport Fishing And Boating Partnership Council, and other partnership activities promote voluntary habitat development on private lands and fostering aquatic conservation. 

Federal Legislation

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Lacey Act, 1900

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Migratory Bird Act, 1916

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Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 1918

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Migratory Bird Conservation Act, 1929

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Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 1934

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Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, 1934

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Dingell-Johnson Act, 1950

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Refuge Recreation Act, 1952

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Fish and Wildlife Act, 1956

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National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, 1956

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Endangered Species Act, 1973

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Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, 1980

National Refuge System

"Management and several Public Use of the National Wildlife Refuge System," was signed by President Clinton on March 25, 1996. It defines a conservation mission for the Refuge System "to preserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of the fish, wildlife, and plants of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations." This mission sets the Refuge System apart from all other Federal lands.

The Executive Order defined six compatible wildlife-dependent recreational activities as priority uses of the System, and directs the Secretary to provide expanded opportunities for these activities.

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hunting, 

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fishing, 

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wildlife observation, 

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photography, 

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environmental education, and

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interpretation 

The EO defines four guiding principles for management of the System: 

  1. habitat conservation, 

  2. public use, 

  3. partnerships, and 

  4. public involvement. 

Of these, the conservation of habitat is the foundation upon which all sustained use is dependent.

Profile of the Refuge System

The Refuge System includes:

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The only diverse national network of public lands set aside for the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants.

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More than 93 million acres of land and water.

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More than 500 refuges, several thousand Waterfowl Production Areas, and 51 Coordination Areas.

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A wide variety of "special management areas" such as Wilderness, Research Natural Areas, Wetlands of International Importance, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Natural Landmarks.

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21 refuges designated as Class I Areas under the Clean Air Act, meaning they receive the highest levels of protection, including: Cape Romain, SC; Okefenokee, GA; and Moosehorn, ME.

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Important habitat for over 700 bird species, 220 mammal species, 250 reptiles and amphibians species, and over 200 species of fish.

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Hundreds of national wildlife refuges are located along the four major migration corridors, or "flyways," for waterfowl and other birds (Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific). These refuges serve as vital "stepping stones" for millions of birds on their long annual migrations.

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The Refuge System provides habitat for 180 threatened and endangered animal species and 78 threatened and endangered plant species, with 56 refuges established under the authority of the Endangered Species Act. 

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The Refuge System attracts more than 34 million visits annually to engage in wildlife-dependent recreation.

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Approximately 98 percent of the land in the Refuge System is open to the public.

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The Refuge System offers environmental education programs on 230 field stations.

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Over 40 percent of refuge visits occur on 10 refuges, including Chincoteague, VA; Wichita Mountains, OK; and Ding Darling, FL.

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The Refuge System offers hunting programs on more than 290 refuges and fishing on more than 260 refuges.

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Refuge visitors come to:
Observe and photograph wildlife (16 million visits)
Hunt (1.6 million visits)
Fish (5.5 million visits)
Participate in environmental education/interpretation programs (11 million visits)

Types of Refuges

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Migratory bird refuges (general)

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Migratory bird refuges (waterfowl)

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Waterfowl production areas in wetland management districts

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Big game refuges

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Wildlife ranges and game ranges

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Wildlife coordination management areas

Wildlife Habitat

Wetlands

Wetland habitats within the Refuge System are abundant and diverse. The vast majority (95%) of wetland acreage in the Refuge System is not manipulated in any way. In these areas, "management" is limited to documentation of baseline conditions, monitoring of natural processes, and protection of habitat from negative external influences. 

In contrast, about 1.6 million acres of wetlands in the Refuge System are managed through application of a wide variety of manipulative tools, such as prescribed fire, grazing, water level control, diking, herbicides, small mammal management, and discing. Refuge wetland restoration and, in some cases, creation of new habitats, have become an increasingly important part of efforts to stem the continuing decline of wetlands nationwide. Refuges play a major role in meeting the wetland habitat objectives of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the Partners for Wildlife Programs. 

National Wetlands Inventory

The National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service produces information on the characteristics, extent, and status of the Nation’s wetlands and deepwater habitats. 

Big Game Habitat

Management is based on :

  1. Number of animals allowed for harvesting by hunters

  2. Predator control.

  3. Habitat conditions, relating to forage conditions and climate.

Endangered and Threatened Species

Endangered species: a species that is on the brink of extinction throughout all or a majority of it's range.

Threatened species: a species likely to become endangered in the future.

The United States Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects plant and animal species formally listed as threatened or endangered by the Secretary of Interior (terrestrial and freshwater species and some marine species) or the Secretary of Commerce (other marine species). The Act calls for the listing of species to be based solely on scientific data. As of August 1991, some 639 U.S. species and 528 foreign species were listed as threatened or endangered. The Fish and Wildlife Service also maintains lists of some 600 "candidate" species for which enough information exists to warrant immediate protection under the Act and another 3000 candidate species suspected to be in need of listing but for which insufficient information is available to make a determination. 

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National and International Endangered and Threatened Species List

Manatee in the Crystal River NWR, FL.

Chapter 11 - Federal Agencies: Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Bureau of Reclamation
Established by the Reclamation Act of  1902, the Bureau of Reclamation is best known for the dams, powerplants, and canals it constructed in the 17 western states. These water projects led to homesteading and promoted the economic development of the West. Reclamation has constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and Grand Coulee on the Columbia River.

Initially, BOR irrigation projects were known as "reclamation" projects. The concept was that irrigation would "reclaim" arid lands for human use. Human use meant that  reclamation programs would encourage Western settlement, making homes for Americans on family farms. 

The BOR is the second largest wholesaler of water in the country. Bringing water to more than 31 million people, and provide one out of five Western farmers (140,000) with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation's vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts.

Reclamation is also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States. 58 powerplants annually provide more than 40 billion kilowatt hours generating nearly a billion dollars in power revenues and producing enough electricity to serve 6 million homes.

Mission

The mission of the Bureau of Reclamation is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.

Recreation

The Bureau of Reclamation, an agency in the Department of the Interior, provides more than 80 million visitors a year with exciting water-based recreation opportunities at more than 300 reservoirs in the 17 western states. Nearly 200 of these recreation areas are managed by non-Federal governmental entities, such as State and county parks. Many are managed by other Federal agencies, like the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service. There are 8 National Recreation Areas including; Lake Mead, Glen Canyon, and Grand Coulee.

Partnerships have also been developed with organizations like the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society, Trout Unlimited, and America Outdoors to sponsor fishing and outdoor events in cooperation with local businesses and community groups. In addition to these partnerships, there are over 200 concessions operations. Combined BOR and concessionaire facilities, services, and activites available to the public include:

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marinas, 

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fishing,

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boating,

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campgrounds, 

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swimming beaches, 

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equestrian centers, and

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golf courses

Fishing and boating are the most popular activities, accounting for more than 27 million user days on about 1.7 million surface acres of water. Many of the facilities are accessible to the disabled.

Reclamation offers guided tours at some of its major structures, such as Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, Nevada, and Grand Coulee Dam near Spokane, Washington. The recently completed new visitors center at Hoover Dam will accommodate over 1.5 million people a year to tour the dam and the powerplant below. These areas are accessible by a new elevator. 

Recreation Opportunities on Federal Lands

America's surface waters

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federal lands - 40%

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state or local governments - 10%

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private lands - 50%

Federal Water Projects Act of 1965 directed the water management agencies to give " full consideration to recreation, fish and wildlife enhancement as purposes in federal water resource projects..."

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Corps carries on a proud heritage that began in 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized the first Chief Engineer whose first task was to build fortifications near Boston at Bunker Hill. In 1802 a corps of engineers was stationed at West Point and constituted the nation's first military academy. The United States Military Academy was under the direction of the Corps of Engineers until 1866. With the founding of West Point, the Corps began a tradition of military and civil works missions that continues to this day.

The Corps responsibilities include improving rivers, harbors, and other water areas for navigation, flood control, hydroelectric power, fish and wildlife, shore protection, water supply, and recreation.

The Corps is authorized to construct, maintain, and operate public park and recreation facilities in reservoir areas as part of a multi-purpose project.

Recreation Activity on Corps Areas

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boating (water skiing and personal water craft)

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fishing

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picnicking

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sight-seeing

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swimming

Mission

Our mission is to provide quality, responsive engineering services to the nation including:

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Planning, designing, building and operating water resources and other civil works projects (Navigation, Flood Control, Environmental Protection, Disaster Response, etc.)

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Designing and managing the construction of military facilities for the Army and Air Force. (Military Construction)

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Providing design and construction management support for other Defense and federal agencies. (Support for Others)

Organization

The Corps is organized geographically into 8 divisions in the US and 41 subordinate districts throughout the US, Asia and Europe. Divisions and districts are defined by watershed boundaries, not by states. 

Map of USACE Engineer Divisions and Districts

The Corps manages over 4,300 recreation areas at 463 lakes. More information about Recreation facilities and on-line reservations are available from Recreation Services

National Inventory of Dams

The National Inventory of Dams (NID) is a Congressionally authorized dam safety and management tool, which documents dams in the U.S. and its territories. The NID was reauthorized in Section 215 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-303). The NID includes dams that are at least 25 feet high, or impound at least 50 acre-feet of water at maximum pool level (as defined in law). The NID is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), the states and territories, and dam owning Federal Agencies.

Dams currently in the United States, the NID currently contains almost 77,000 dams meeting the definition in law. 

Other Related Federal Agencies

Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Bureau of Indian Affairs received congressional authorization in 1834. One of the first actions taken by the Continental Congress in 1775 was to name a Committee on Indian Affairs. The committee established three departments of Indian Affairs and called upon such prominent Americans as Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry to assume leadership roles in the operation of these offices.

Henry Knox, Secretary of War, assumed responsibility for Indian affairs with the ordinance of August 7, 1786. The first Congress continued administration of Indian affairs within the War Department, established in 1789, with direction to the Secretary to place armed militia at the disposal of Indian commissioners "for negotiating treaties with the Indians."

Without authorization from Congress, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun on March 11, 1824, created what he called the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  On July 9, 1832, Congress authorized the President "to appoint by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who shall, under the direction of the Secretary of War, and agreeable to such regulations as the President may, from time to time, prescribe, have the direction and management of all Indian affairs, and of all matters arising out of Indian relations."

The first presidential-appointment for Commissioner was Elbert Herring. His salary was set at $3,000 per year.

In the first session of the 23rd Congress in 1834, the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives passed bills dealing with Indian affairs. These included measures to (1) organize a Department of Indian Affairs, and (2) regulated trade with Indians.

On June 30, 1834, the Bureau of Indian Affairs came into being through what has since become known as the organic law of the Indian office.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was to remain in the War Department for 15 years after its creation by Congress. An act on March 3, 1849, established the Home Department of the Interior and Indian affairs passed from military to civilian control. 

Development of the reservation system gained momentum in the mid-1850s after experimentation with the reservation policy in California. The role of the Bureau changed in the last quarter of the 1800s and specialized activities such as irrigation, forestry, Indian employment, law enforcement, health, and construction became increasingly more important. 

Until 1973, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was placed organizationally under an Interior Department assistant secretary whose principle responsibilities revolved around land and water resources or other Interior programs. 

In 1977, the post of Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs was created, thereby assuring the Bureau of a voice in policy matters within the Interior Department. Forrest Gerard, a member of the Blackfeet Indian tribe, became the first to fill this office.

Mission Statement

The Bureau of Indian Affairs' mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. We will accomplish this through the delivery of quality services, maintaining government-to-government relationships within the spirit of Indian self-determination.

Recreation Opportunities

Tribal lands offer many diverse opportunities for recreation activities including downhill skiing, hunting, wildlife viewing, backpacking, rafting, and gaming. Many tribal communities are actively promoting tourism based on cultural and historical education. A growing source of tourism is casinos and gaming.

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Gaming Compact 

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Native American Sport and Recreation Institute

One example of a partnership between a tribal community and a government agency is Canyon de Chelly. Canyon de Chelly National Monument offers visitors the chance to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest basketmakers to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here. Authorized April 1, 1931. Acreage- 83,840 all nonfederal.

 

Pueblo Basket Dance

Tennessee Valley Authority

The Tennessee Valley Authority was one of  President Franklin Roosevelt's most innovative ideas to lift the nation out of the depths of the Great Depression. President Roosevelt asked Congress to create “a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.” On May 18, 1933, Congress passed the TVA Act. The TVA is a quasi-government agency.

TVA's mission-integrated resource management includes:

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production, 

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navigation, 

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flood control,

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malaria prevention, 

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reforestation, and

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erosion control

1930s
During the Great Depression, the Tennessee Valley was in one of the worst hit economic areas in the country. Much of the land had been farmed too hard for too long, eroding and depleting the soil. Crop yields had fallen along with farm incomes. The best timber had been cut. TVA developed fertilizers, taught farmers how to improve crop yields, and helped replant forests, control forest fires, and improve habitat for wildlife and fish. The most dramatic change in Valley life came from the electricity generated by TVA dams. Electric lights and modern appliances made life easier and farms more productive. Electricity also drew industries into the region, providing desperately needed jobs. 

TVA built dams to harness the region’s rivers. The dams controlled floods, improved navigation, and generated electricity. 

1940s 
During World War II, the United States needed aluminum to build bombs and airplanes, and aluminum plants required electricity. To provide power for such critical war industries, TVA engaged in one of the largest hydropower construction programs ever undertaken in the United States. Early in 1942, when the effort reached its peak, 12 hydroelectric projects and a steam plant were under construction at the same time, and design and construction employment reached a total of 28,000. 

1950s 
By the end of the war, TVA had completed a 650-mile (1,050-kilometer) navigation channel the length of the Tennessee River and had become the nation’s largest electricity supplier. Even so, the demand for electricity was outstripping TVA’s capacity to produce power from hydroelectric dams. Political interference kept TVA from securing additional federal appropriations to build coal-fired plants, so it sought the authority to issue bonds. Congress passed legislation in 1959 to make the TVA power system self-financing, and from that point on it would pay its own way.  

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Alabama, has three boiling-water reactors, each with a generating capacity of more than 1,100 megawatts. In the summer of 1999, TVA’s nuclear plants set new records for efficient operation and helped the corporation meet an all-time peak demand of 28,295 megawatts on July 30. 

Vision
Generating Prosperity in the Valley 

Goals

1) Supplying low-cost, reliable power

2) Supporting a thriving river system. Minimize flood damage, maintain navigation, support power production, improve water quality, protect public health and the environment, and support recreational uses. 

3) Stimulating economic growth

4) . . . to improve the quality of every life in the Valley

Recreation

TVA operates some 100 public recreation areas throughout the Tennessee Valley, including campgrounds, day-use areas, and boat launching ramps. TVA manages 11,000 miles of public shoreline. The premier recreation attraction the the TVA operates is the Ocoee River Gorge, TN.

The main attraction of the Ocoee River Gorge is the whitewater course below Ocoee Dam No. 3, which drew thousands to the Olympic competitions in 1996. 

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Whitewater Course Model, Near Ocoee Dam No. 1 

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Rafting Trips, The four-and-a-half-mile Ocoee whitewater rafting area, located below Ocoee Dam No. 2, attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year. A number of commercial outfitters organize and supply rafting trips down the floatway.

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Copper Basin Restoration, Until recently much of the Copper Basin, a few miles upstream from Ocoee Dam No. 3, was barren and bleak, the effect of years of copper mining and smelting. The practice of burning the ore to get rid of sulfur produced acid rain, which denuded an area of more than 50 square miles. Astronauts could once see the red scar on the earth from outer space. Today, thanks to restoration efforts by TVA and other organizations, the Copper Basin’s recovery is almost complete and the area has been returned to its former beauty.

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Recreation Areas, The U.S. Forest Service manages a number of recreation areas in the Ocoee River region. Swimming, picnicking, and camping facilities are available, as well as boat launching ramps.

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Parksville Lake, also known as Lake Ocoee, is located behind Ocoee Dam No. 1 and is easily accessible from Interstate 75. Lake levels fluctuate very little during the year, and the lake offers scenic vistas of Cherokee National Forest. Visitors can stay at the Forest Service

Ocoee Dam #3

Land Between the Lakes

Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, which had been under TVA stewardship since 1963, was transferred to U.S. Forest Service management on October 1, 1999, is a 170,000-acre national recreation area in Western Kentucky and Tennessee.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1970 established the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA's historical role has been to predict environmental changes, protect life and property, provide decision makers with reliable scientific information, and foster global environmental stewardship.

Mission

NOAA's mission is to describe and predict changes in the Earth's environment, and conserve and wisely manage the Nation's coastal and marine resources.

The National Marine Sanctuaries Act

The National Marine Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (NMSA) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to designate and manage areas of the marine environment with nationally significant aesthetic, ecological, historical, or recreational values as National Marine Sanctuaries. The primary objective of this law is to protect marine resources, such as coral reefs, sunken historical vessels or unique habitats, while facilitating all "compatible" public and private uses of those resources. Sanctuaries, which are frequently called underwater parks, are managed according to Management Plans, prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on a site-by-site basis.

NOAA administers the National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) through the Sanctuaries and Reserves Division (SRD) of the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM). Thirteen areas have been designated National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS). Six of the 13 sanctuaries have been designated since 1990. One additional area, Thunder Bay, Michigan, is an active candidate for designation.
 
bulletList of Marine Sanctuaries

National Marine Fisheries

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) or "NOAA Fisheries" is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NMFS administers NOAA's programs which support the domestic and international conservation and management of living marine resources. NMFS provides services and products to support domestic and international fisheries management operations, fisheries development, trade and industry assistance activities, enforcement, protected species and habitat conservation operations, and the scientific and technical aspects of NOAA's marine fisheries program. 

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