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Public Lands at the Millennium

John D. Leshy , Proceedings of 46th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2000)

This presentation describes, and illustrates with examples, central themes of the Clinton Administration's public lands and natural resources policies, from my perspective as a single participant in those policies.2 I have focused on areas of most interest to this audience: namely, mining and minerals issues, and I have concentrated on those involving the Interior Department; there is here little mention of issues involving other departments (e.g., the Forest Service), or of issues such as water. For these reasons, the title of this paper somewhat overstates its compass, though it does [1-4] include broader observations in keeping with the millennium theme.

In general, the policies of this Administration have been in keeping with the long-term evolution of the role of public lands and resources in national life, an evolution that has, not surprisingly (if imperfectly), responded to changing demographics, economics, and public tastes. This evolution was elegantly summarized in Professor Sax's perspectives lecture that opened last year's annual institute in Monterey.3 What follows are snapshots of Administration policies that, to a large extent, illustrate the broad strokes supplied by Professor Sax.