Karen R. Merrill

in Public Lands and Political Meaning

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780520228627
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520926882 | DOI:

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Public land ranchers of an earlier day would likely have agreed with Senator Steven Symms' characterization of what the public rangeland meant: that whatever the technical, legal meaning of “public lands,” the government was the owner, and “public good” meant little. At the level of policy, public grazing law went through dramatic changes. Two legislative acts had profound effects on public grazing: the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Public Rangeland Improvement Act (PRIA). Ranchers and government officials were trapped in a struggle from which they could not break free: unable to agree on that meaning, they were nonetheless bound together in a relationship of politics and property, with each side laying claim to the lands that stood between them.

Keywords: public land ranchers; public lands; public good; public grazing; politics; property

Chapter.  2393 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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