In 1962, Congressman Wayne Aspinall wrote to President Kennedy asking him to establish a commission to review public land laws. What resulted two years later was the Public Land Law Review Commission, which later released a report that became the blueprint for public lands legislation including the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Forest Management Act.
On this 40th anniversary of the commission’s report, it is worth reflecting on its impacts. Did the ensuing laws and regulations give us better management of one third of the nation’s land? Do we have the best people with adequate funding using the best science and practicing “adaptive management” through experiments that balance human and environmental values? If you think the answer is yes, take another look at the emperor; he is naked.