Prior to the mid-1800's, the valuable resources from these lands were simply being mined with the idea that the resources were placed here for our use and there were no limits to what could be taken from the land. About 1850, we were just beginning to accept the idea that we might need to begin managing these valuable resources however, we still saw little chance that our demands might cause any shortages in the future.
Throughout the settlement of these lands a demand for opportunities to use these lands for private financial opportunities developed. Such instruments as special-use permits, grazing permits, mining leases and summer home permits were developed to offer opportunities for utilization of resources from the public lands. All of these instruments provided a privilege for use and conveyed no legal rights. They also required adherence to strict regulations and the payment of fees for the privilege of use.
Today we are able to observe that our valuable natural resources have definite limitations and our dependence upon our natural surroundings is critical. We have lost slightly over 50% of our worlds forest cover and our population has reached 7.5 billion, expanding by 75 million annually. On the North American Continent, we now require 5 times more acreage to support our life style than is available for each individual on our planet. Our only option is to properly management of our remaining public lands. This will require significant changes in management principles and processes. We can not let the selfish demands of a few destroy the valuable lands required for the future of us all!