Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Event Date



The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers approximately 245 million acres of our public lands and yet, for most of our nation's history, these lands seemed largely destined to end up in private hands. Even when the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 ushered in an important era of better managing public grazing districts and "promoting the highest use of the public lands," such use of our public lands still was plainly considered temporary, "pending its final disposal." It was not until 1976 with the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) that congress adopted a policy that the "public lands be retained in Federal ownership." In the 40 years since Congress enacted FLPMA, the BLM has experienced a remarkable transformation from an agency once focusing almost entirely on livestock grazing and mineral development to one that has fully embraced a multiple use mandate--including managing large tracts of public lands for conservation and even wilderness protection purposes. Many of the nation's prominent environmental or natural resources laws, within the last few years, have celebrated their 40th anniversaries, often provoking critical dialogues about their past and future. It is now time to acknowledge and celebrate the remarkable transformation of the BLM over the last 40 years since FLPMA's enactment in 1976.

This conference was held on Friday, October 21st, 2016 in the Wittemyer Courtroom at the University of Colorado Law School. Event sponsors included The PEW Charitable Trusts, The Wilderness Society, the University of Wyoming College of Law, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and Colorado Law, University of Colorado Boulder.


Mark Squillace, Karin Sheldon, Ruth Welch, Fred Cheever, Marcilynn Burke

Alternate Title

Federal Land Management and Policy Act Turns 40