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Reforming Federal Land Management

Cutting the Gordian Knot

Allan K. Fitzsimmons

For over a century, American have created laws, processes, objectives, priorities, and rules for federal land management that often conflict, contradict, and undermine each other. We now find ourselves with inconsistent laws, unclear priorities, procedural mazes, and an antiquated bureaucratic structure. Processes and procedures often impede rather than aid management actions and prevent good stewardship. The overall result is a loss of public benefits and undesirable impact on natural resources. Allan Fitzsimmons presents a clear argument for major changes and offers new ideas for how those changes can be accomplished. Students and professionals interested in public policy, resource management, and environmental studies will find this book to be particularly interesting. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 188Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-1596-2 • Hardback • March 2012 • $69.00 • (£47.95)
978-1-4422-1595-5 • eBook • March 2012 • $65.00 • (£44.95)
Allan K. Fitzsimmons spent four decades in government and academia working on resource and public land issues. In 2007, he retired from the Department of the Interior where he was a Special Assistant in the immediate office of the Secretary. He has also worked for the National Park Service and the Department of Energy in various capacities. Among his academic positions, he chaired the Environmental Studies program at George Washington University. He is the author of Defending Illusions: Federal Protection of Ecosystems.
About the Author
To anyone concerned with federal lands—covering 28 percent of the United States—it is obvious that competing and overlapping laws, agencies, courts, and interest groups have made coherent management impossible. The great achievement of this book is to make the obvious inescapable and to propose politically practicable policies for reforming the administration of these lands.
Mark Sagoff, Institute of Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland

Allan Fitzsimmons has a rare background of extensive practical experience with public lands management, coupled with a scholar’s interest in objectively analyzing what works and what does not. Reforming Federal Land Management illustrates the complex historical and philosophical attitudes influencing our land management approaches through a series of informative examples. Fitzsimmons’ recommendations for cutting through the “Gordian Knot” of the current system are thought-provoking and should stimulate a national debate.
Gale Norton, former Secretary of the Interior

How do we cut the "Gordian Knot" of conflicting laws and procedural mazes that characterize public land management? Allan Fitzsimmons asks this bold question and offers bold answers. He wants to make us think—and he succeeds in a remarkably informed and elegantly written treatise.
Lynn Scarlett, Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

This well written and well documented book is on point and captures the problems standing in the way of rational federal land management. The thought provoking solutions take a different slant than is typical of public land commentators and provide an excellent starting point for the debate over the future of federal land. I highly recommend the book for anyone concerned about our federal estate.
Olen Paul Matthews, professor of geography, University of New Mexico

This unusual, provocative book analyzes US federal environmental policy, and the ability of the government to effect change, from the perspective of a former senior member of the Department of the Interior. Painstakingly researched, it explains the environmental, political, and legal circumstances driving federal land management, primarily in the US West. Critics agree that lands are mismanaged; Fitzsimmons offers a continuum of recommendations. Four chapters build a cumulative case toward the author's recommendations for breaking gridlock. Chapter 1 reviews federal lands, including their distribution, utility, and resources. Chapter 2 illustrates how perspectives and expectations concerning federal lands have changed over time, and how settlement patterns and events (e.g., gas prices, oil spills) influence expectations. Chapter 3 presents the cacophonous directives that agencies must respond to, clearly explaining why there is management paralysis. This content will be highly valuable to students of any area of federal policy and practice. The final chapter catalogs and evaluates recommendations for change, concluding with the author's recommendations for Congress, the judiciary, and the executive branch. This is somewhat a polemic, which clearly illustrates the political nature of federal land management. Fitzsimmons is also the author of Defending Illusions: Federal Protection of Ecosystems (CH, Mar'00, 37-3892). Summing Up: Recommended.

Allan K. Fitzsimmons is a thoughtful and apparently frustrated former cabinet-level official at the Department of the Interior. He frames federal land management as hamstrung by an accretion of conflicting priorities, processes, and agencies. Even while recognizing that Congress created the problems he emphasizes, Fitzsimmons positions Congress as the essential knot-cutter.
Western Historical Quarterly