A recent audit report by the General Accounting Office found that land exchanges by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are rarely in the public's best interest. In fact, the report says that both agencies often agree to exchanges that undervalue public lands and overvalue private holdings.
The report, BLM and the Forest Service:
Land Exchanges Need to Reflect Appropriate Value and Serve the
Public Interest, recommends a moratorium on exchanges
until the system is reformed. One step toward reform, according to
the report, is to allow time for public comment on
The federal land agencies say
exchanges are important tools, since they create continuous blocks
of public land and reduce management problems associated with
checkerboard property ownership. In a letter to Rep. George Miller,
D-Calif., U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman
says the Forest Service is working to improve the land exchange
program and has taken the GAO's recommendations under advisement.
Miller, who requested the report, has called for
a moratorium on land exchanges. More than 120 environmental groups
have signed a letter supporting him.
with the issue of consolidating these lands is a great idea
theoretically," says Deborah Kmon of American Wildlands. "Until we
can prove they are maintaining ecological integrity, (land
exchanges) shouldn't take place."
For a copy of
the report, visit the GAO Web site at