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A New Landscape: 8 Ideas for the Interior Department


Any time of transition brings new opportunity. As a new administration settles in Washington and legislators embark upon a new Congress, there is an opportunity to address environmental challenges and economic obstacles related to the management of the nation’s land, water, and other natural resources.

When it comes to land management, the U.S. Department of the Interior plays the widest-ranging and most crucial role of any department of the federal government. Controlling such a vast amount of territory and resources is a major responsibility and a difficult one.

In this PERC Public Lands Report, we outline eight policy ideas that would harness the power of markets and property rights to deliver environmental and economic improvements for the lands, waters, and other resources under the control of the Department of the Interior.

  1. Public Lands Management: Adopt new management approaches that allow greater flexibility and freedom while retaining federal oversight and accountability

  2. National Parks: Make the National Park Service less reliant on politically driven Congressional appropriations

  3. Land and Water Conservation Fund: Reform the LWCF to address critical needs on existing public lands

  4. Endangered Species: Harness economic incentives to enhance wildlife assets

  5. Grazing Policy: Resolve rangeland disputes with contracts, not armed conflicts

  6. Tribal Policy: Give tribes more authority over their natural resources

  7. Water Policy: Harness markets to make the most of scarce water resources

  8. Oil and Gas: Adopt market-based measures to reduce conflict and boost revenues while protecting local environmental values

Download the full report, including endnotes and references.

Written By
  • Reed Watson

    Reed Watson is the director of the Hayek Center for the Business of Prosperity and a professor of practice in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University.

  • Terry Anderson

    Terry L. Anderson is the former president and executive director of PERC, and the John and Jean De Nault Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

  • Shawn Regan
    Shawn Regan
    • Vice President of Research

    Shawn Regan is a research fellow and vice president of research at PERC.  He is the executive editor of PERC Reports.

  • Holly Fretwell
    Holly Fretwell
    • Research Fellow

    Holly Fretwell is a research fellow at PERC, where for more than two decades she has researched public land policy, property rights, and markets.

  • Hannah Downey
    • Policy Director

    Hannah Downey is the policy director at PERC, helping to bring PERC ideas to the policy world.

  • Robert Nelson

    Robert H. Nelson is a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and a 2010 Lone Mountain Fellow at PERC. From 1975 to 1993, he worked as a senior economist in the Office of Policy Analysis of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior.

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