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National Public Lands Day 2015

View of the Madison Valley from BLM lands in Montana

On September 26, National Public Lands Day brings awareness and volunteers together to help keep our parks, forests, and rivers clean. As more Americans realize the managers of our parks and public lands are struggling to protect our natural resources, Public Lands Day serves as an important reminder that it is upon us all to protect our resources, build stewardship, and preserve lands in a way that allows for future enjoyment.

PERC scholars have researched parks and public lands for 35 years, and this year the issue has been front and center. In recent publications, our scholars have outlined potential solutions and practical policy reforms to help protect our land, wildlife, and resources.

PERC’s 2015 Work on Public Lands:

Divided Lands State vs. Federal Management in the WestIn light of the current federal lands transfer debate, Holly Fretwell and Shawn Reagan compare state and federal land management in Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona. The report explores why state land agencies receive higher revenues per acre than federal land agencies when managed for timber, grazing, minerals, and recreation. To find out more, read the report.

PERC Reports: National Parks Centennial – The latest issue of PERC Reports celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service by exploring the past, present, and future of our national parks. Articles focus on how free market environmentalism has helped shape the legacy of our parks, and how it can continue to improve park management. Read the issue, “Back to the Future of Our National Parks” to learn more.

Charter Forests: A New Management Approach for National ForestsIn this policy series, Robert Nelson proposes an alternative approach to national forest in creating “charter forests.” Similar to charter schools, charter forests would have freedom to innovate and accountability. Operating under federal oversight, management would be based on an individual forest, allowing for more creative and locally responsive management. Read the Policy Series here.

“NPS Franchise: A Better Way to Protect our Heritage” – As part of the George Wright Forum’s National Park Centennial Essay Series, PERC’s Holly Fretwell proposes an arrangement in which the National Park Service offers a franchise opportunity for entrepreneurs to run new park sites deemed of national significance. Land and structures would remain in private hands, but receive “national park” stature. Find out more on how a franchise structure could benefit parks here.

Congressional testimony on the Land and Water Conservation Fund – In April 2015, Reed Watson and Shawn Reagan provided testimony to Congress on the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). In their statements, they explained that using the LWCF to acquire more public lands without first addressing the billions of dollars in deferred maintenance on current holdings would threaten the health, accessibility, and productivity of the lands. Take a look at their testimonies; Reed’s testimony and Shawn’s testimony.

“Let’s Fix Our National Parks, Not Add More” – Originally appearing in the New York Times, Reed Watson and Scott Wilson penned an op-ed calling for LWCF reform. They argue that true conservation is caring for the land and water we already have, not continuing to acquire more in the hopes that it manages itself. Read the article here.

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