The management approach of U.S. agencies to public lands, natural resources, and environmental protection has varied greatly across the years, starting with an exploitative utilitarianism, then gradually adding considerable protections for natural resources and ecosystems in response to changing societal values. Along the way, federal natural resource agencies have cultivated uneasy and shifting partnerships with private development interests (e.g., logging, grazing, water, mining, energy), recreationists, and preservationists. In fact, conventional wisdom holds that many natural resource agencies historically have been controlled by powerful congressional representatives in partnership with and for the benefit of private development interests. However, the claims of capture have been increasingly challenged by the significant advances in environmental protections for natural resources since the 1960s. At the same time, innovative new approaches for managing natural resources such as market-based environmentalism and collaborative governance have emerged to compete with more traditional top down, government-based, command-and-control approaches.
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