Copyright (c) 2002 Public Land & Resources Law Review
Public Land & Resources Law Review
ARTICLE: Creating New Opportunities for Ecosystem Restoration on Public Lands: An Analysis of the Potential for
Bureau of Land Management Lands
23 Pub. Land & Resources L. Rev. 21
Steven C. Forrest 1
The northern high plains of the western central United States once housed one of the world's most spectacular aggregations of wildlife. As William Clark, standing near Great Falls on the Missouri River in north central Montana described it in 1805, "immence herds of Buffaloe, Elk, deer, & Antelopes feeding in one common and boundless pasture." 2 Today, the native short grass prairies that sustained this fecundity of animal biomass are dwindling. Yet large expanses of native vegetation in the Northern High Plains Steppe Ecoregion still remain intact. 3 The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recognizes the ecoregion as "globally outstanding" in terms of potential for biodiversity conservation. 4 The WWF gives the region a high conservation priority due to the number of globally imperiled species inhabiting the area, the potential for supporting numerous conservation targets, and the threat of development from agricultural conversion. 5 The intact nature of the ecoregion's natural vegetation and land management provides an opportunity to link habitats and contribute to functional large-scale processes, while at the same time providing a buffer from incompatible activities. 6
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands represent a unique class of public lands. In the northern plains states, these are lands that were not claimed or set-aside during the land settlement boom of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth century. 7 As such, their value was historically regarded as economically circumspect, and their contribution to global biodiversity as insignificant. 8 The conservation community largely ignored management of ...
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