It is the mission of the Bureau of Land Management to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of
the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
The BLM dates back to 1812 with the creation of the General Land Office under the Department of the Treasury. The GLO was created to handle and sell public lands at a minimum price set by Congress.
At first, The Credit Act of 1800 served as a payment model and set the minimum price at $2/acres. The Act of April 20, 1820 lowered the minimum price to $1.25/acre and set tract size minimum to 80 acres.
The Homestead Act of 1862 changed the game again. With this act, anyone that was considered the head of household could settle on public land. After 5 years, cultivation or improvement of the land, and a $15 service fee, they gained ownership of the land. This act was repealed in 1976 but claims continue to be settled.
In 1866 the Mining Act was passed making public, mineral land open to exploration by anyone for a claim fee of $5/acre. However, the General Mining act of 1872 declared that mineral lands were a distinct class of public lands and were open to exploration and occupancy under certain conditions.
All of these acts were enforced by the General Land Office. The GLO reached its peak in 1890 with 123 district offices.
Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 sought to control overgrazing on public lands. The Division of Grazing was created under the Department of the Interior.
Finally in 1946, the Bureau of Land Management was created under the Department of the Interior, merging the Grazing Service with the General Land Office.
The Federal Land and Mineral Policy Act currently dictate the direction of the BLM.
Most lands under the agencies control are in the Western State. The agency manages 15.2 million acres in California which accounts for 15% of the state’s land. A paradise for wide variety of users.
To support your federal agency or learn how you can help, visit the Public Lands Foundation.