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National Research Council (US) Committee on Agricultural Land Use and Wildlife Resources. Land Use and Wildlife Resources. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1970.

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Land Use and Wildlife Resources.

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CHAPTER 8Legislation and Administration

It has long been recognized that necessary laws and regulations constitute an important tool of resource management, particularly as a means of imposing restraints. In the wildlife field, these restraints have roots in antiquity. Indeed, restrictions on taking game were enacted in pre-Revolutionary times in all of the 13 American colonies.

Legislation and administrative regulations have served the positive role of establishing policy and promoting improvement of the environment in the interests of technically sound wildlife management. Changes in long-established cropping procedures commonly are prompted by new knowledge derived from research and may involve the removal of restrictions. Biological realism of this kind is the framework for achieving lasting productivity on land and water.


Under United States constitutional provisions, the states have primary legal responsibility for wildlife protection and administration, both through their administration of the well-established and recognized doctrine of public ownership of wildlife, and through police power. Neither of these functions was transferred to the federal government at the time the federal constitution was adopted; hence they remain with the states. The Constitution does, however, reserve to the federal government specific functions such as treaty-making and the regulation of interstate commerce. Both have frequently been applied for wildlife conservation purposes. These actions sometimes limit state jurisdiction in ways that affect the management of areas that are of national significance.


Early assumption by the states of wildlife administration as a trust of the people was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896 in the widely quoted case of Geer vs. Connecticut. This decision probably was influential both in the establishment in every state of a governmental unit to handle wildlife affairs, and in passage of a large and complex body of state laws or regulations.

The doctrine of “state” (public) ownership of wildlife is attributed to English common law. Now, however, in England and other western European countries the landowner has property rights in the wildlife of his land and hence, by contrast with the American scene, laws and regulations dealing with wildlife are few and simple. Responsibilities of the landowner are far greater than in America, and the functions of government are correspondingly less. As a result, Europeans have not developed such well-established units of the government concerned with wildlife (Sigler, 1956).

Although state responsibility for wildlife is widely recognized, in most states wildlife and its recreational use are subordinate to other resource interests. In many states, for example, wildlife production has not been recognized as a beneficial use of land or water, so that when conflicts arise between this and other uses, wildlife frequently receives little consideration. A major example is the administration of water law in western states (discussed later in this chapter), but others occur. The reason may well be that wildlife values are to a great extent social values, being recreational and esthetic, and are not readily measured in conventional economic terms. Although the situation is changing for the better, as wildlife values receive growing recognition year by year, in certain kinds of competition the position of wildlife is still predictably weak. When a highway is proposed along a trout stream, it is still normal for most engineers to be unconcerned about the welfare of fish. Seldom is the right of eminent domain used by either the state or federal government in obtaining a wildlife area. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that only about two percent of its refuge land purchases are by condemnation.

State jurisdiction relates primarily to the control of wildlife and to the manner in which hunters and fishermen may utilize the resource—not to the habitat upon which wildlife production is dependent. The landowner holds the key to production through his control of the habitat, and thus he needs to be a partner in management if the resource is to yield public benefits.

National and International Functions

The jurisdiction of the federal government over wildlife results from several specific authorities provided in the Constitution. The treaty-making power is reserved to the federal government, and under this the United States has treaties with Great Britain on behalf of Canada (1916) and with Mexico (1937) to protect and manage the migratory bird resources of North America (Magnuson, 1965a).

By 1900 it was already clear that the states could not adequately protect migratory birds. There were several efforts early in the century to make this a federal responsibility, but until the Migratory Bird Treaty was ratified in 1916, and later upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional, there was a clear conflict with state authority. As a result of the treaties with Canada and Mexico, primary jurisdiction over migratory birds is assumed by the federal government, which has developed a strong program to implement its responsibility. The states now cooperate closely in the conservation of migratory birds, particularly in enforcing protective regulations. The common arrangement is for states to adopt the federal regulations as their own and to carry out enforcement with their own officials in state courts. The success of the North American waterfowl conservation program, which depends upon international as well as state-federal cooperation, is the envy of other parts of the world where it has not been possible to develop such a comprehensive and effective program.

Legal Basis of State-Federal Cooperation

The first important federal law in the wildlife field was the Lacey Act of 1900, which depended for its constitutionality upon federal authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. The most important provision of the Lacey Act declared it to be a federal offense to transport across state boundaries wildlife that had been taken illegally in any state. This law, in effect, placed the strength of the federal government behind the enforcement of state wildlife laws. At first, however, the influence of the Lacey Act was minimal because there were few protective laws to be invoked. Later, as the states increased their legal restrictions and enforcement efforts, this federal legislation became important. It played a significant role in checking the widespread illegal market hunting of that day. Gradually, however, it became evident that the Lacey Act should have been broader, and in 1926 Congress covered the black bass by a special act having provisions similar to the statute of 1900. This was amended to include certain other fishes in 1947. By the late 1960's measures were being considered to extend federal protection to the alligator, long harassed by an interstate traffic in hides.

Having assumed responsibility for migratory bird conservation under terms of the treaties, the Congress passed several laws to achieve this objective. The Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 recognized a system of refuges being developed for migratory birds, and the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act of 1934 was intended to raise revenue for acquiring refuge lands. Migratory bird refuges and waterfowl production areas by 1969 numbered about 350 and totaled some 7½ million acres. Many of these refuges are large and depend for their effectiveness upon dams or dikes to regulate water levels on flowages that sometimes cover many thousands of acres. Some areas within these refuges are cultivated and seeded each year to choice waterfowl food plants. Some are periodically flooded to increase mast production, as from oak.

The Lea Act of 1948 authorized acquisition and development of federal management areas for waterfowl and other wildlife in California. One objective was to develop waterfowl feeding areas on federal land that would lure ducks and geese from privately owned cropfields, and thus help to prevent crop damage. The other federal acts relating to wildlife have generally less relevance to agricultural lands.

The easement aspects of the waterfowl production area program, which is centered in the north central states, is closely related to agricultural land use. Under this program easements are purchased in perpetuity, thus obtaining the owner's right to drain, burn, or fill small water or marsh areas, so that they may be preserved permanently for the benefit of waterfowl and other wildlife. By April 30, 1968, more than 590,000 privately owned acres of waterfowl habitat had been thus preserved. This program was a partial answer to the serious problem of destruction through drainage of the pothole type of habitat, which is extremely productive of waterfowl.

The taxing authority of the federal government permitted passage by Congress of several highly important acts that have provided funds for various types of wildlife programs. In addition to the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, there have been two important federal aid acts: The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, which makes funds available to the states for wildlife restoration, and the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950, which provides cost sharing in sport fish restoration and management projects. Under these acts, excise taxes on guns, ammunition, and fishing tackle are allocated to the state game and fish departments and they must be matched in part by the states. The substance of all of these federal acts has been compiled by Magnuson (1965b).

The wide variety of fish and wildlife projects carried out in large part through federal aid includes many that relate to agricultural lands in the United States. For example, considerable research on the production of fish in ponds has been conducted under the Dingell-Johnson program. Pittman-Robertson funds have supported management work, as well as research, in the general area of increasing waterfowl and upland wildlife production through habitat improvement. Some of the states, with federal assistance, have developed large-scale habitat improvement programs that include privately owned agricultural lands. The Wildlife Management Institute and Sport Fishing Institute jointly publish an annual report, “Federal Aid in Fish and Wildlife Restoration,” which describes this work. Rutherford (1949, 1953) discussed, in some detail, the Pittman-Robertson program from its inception.

The federal government owns approximately one third of the total area of the United States, and it has the same legal right as any landowner to protect its property. Under this general authority, in the 1920's and 1930's the government declared it necessary to remove large numbers of deer to protect the vegetation in certain areas. Well-known examples of these areas were the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona and the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.

More recently, in Yellowstone and some of the other national parks, overpopulations of elk or deer have resulted in damage to the range. Hunting is prohibited in most national parks and some national monuments. In these cases, although state and federal officials agreed that drastic reductions in big game populations were needed, the methods adopted have often given rise to controversy. To keep within the policies and regulations prohibiting hunting, the National Park Service has removed as many animals as possible by live-trapping and transplanting, and then has resorted to direct killing by its own employees. Some states would prefer public hunting under state jurisdiction, but this is contrary to the national park concept, in recognition of which jurisdiction was ceded by the states to the federal government in most of the national parks at the time they were established.

Some state control over resident (nonmigratory) game on federally owned lands has been contested by several federal agencies. In the past such conflicts have been settled in favor of the states, although the states often cede their authority to the government where to do so is obviously in the public interest, as in the case of national parks. Regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture promulgated in 1941 (known as regulations W-1 and W-2) are examples of the voluntary arrangements established for cooperating with the states in wildlife management. Under these regulations the Forest Service in effect pledges itself to exhaust all avenues of cooperation before calling upon federal authority in conflict with that of the states.

Several disputes between the states and the U.S. Department of the Interior may have been precipitated by the opinion of that Department's Solicitor in 1964. The following quotations from the Solicitor's opinion are among those that particularly disturbed the states, and their organization, the International Association of Game, Fish, and Conservation Commissioners. Declared the Solicitor:

. . . it is apparent that the United States, constitutionally empowered as it is, may gain a proprietary interest in land within a state and, in the exercise of this proprietary interest, has constitutional power to enact laws and regulations controlling and protecting that land, including the persons, inanimate articles of value, and resident species of wildlife situated on such land, and that this authority is superior to that of a state.

The opinion concluded:

The regulation of the wildlife populations on federally owned land is an appropriate and necessary function of the Federal Government when the regulations are designed to protect and conserve the wildlife as well as the land.

Following this opinion there were several years of active dispute between the states and the Department of the Interior over the jurisdictional question. Then on June 17, 1968, in an action similar to that of the Secretary of Agriculture in 1941 in promulgating regulations W-1 and W-2, the Secretary of the Interior issued a policy statement with respect to fish and resident wildlife providing:


In all areas administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service, the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, except the National Parks, the National Monuments, and historic areas of the National Park System, the Secretary shall—


Provide that public hunting of resident wildlife and fishing shall be permitted within statutory limitations in a manner that is compatible with, and not in conflict with, the primary objectives as declared by the Congress for which such areas are reserved or acquired;


Provide that public hunting, fishing, and possession of fish and resident wildlife shall be in accordance with applicable state laws and regulations, unless the Secretary finds, after consultation with appropriate state fish and game departments, that he must close such areas to such hunting and fishing or restrict public access thereto for such purposes;


Provide that a state license or permit, as provided by state law, shall be required for public hunting, fishing, and possession of fish and resident wildlife on such areas;


Provide for consultation with the appropriate state fish and game department in the development of cooperative management plans for limiting overabundant or harmful populations of fish and resident wildlife thereon, including the disposition of the carcasses thereof, and, except in emergency situations, secure the State's concurrence in such plans; and


Provide for consultation with the appropriate state fish and game department in carrying out research programs involving the taking of fish and resident wildlife, including the disposition of the carcasses thereof, and secure the State's concurrence in such programs.


In the case of the National Parks, National Monuments, and historic areas of the National Park System, the Secretary shall—


Provide, where public fishing is permitted, that such fishing shall be carried out in accordance with applicable state laws and regulations, unless exclusive legislative jurisdiction has been ceded for such area, and a State license or permit shall be required for such fishing, unless otherwise provided by law;


Prohibit public hunting; and


Provide for consultation with the appropriate state fish and game departments in carrying out programs of control of overabundant or otherwise harmful populations of fish and resident wildlife or research programs involving the taking of such fish and resident wildlife, including the disposition of carcasses therefrom.

In any case where there is a disagreement, such disagreement shall be referred to the Secretary of the Interior who shall provide for a thorough discussion of the problem with representatives of the state fish and game department and the National Park Service for the purpose of resolving the disagreement.

Although this policy statement appears to be cooperative and conciliatory in its tone and intent, it has not fully satisfied the International Association of Game, Fish, and Conservation Commissioners.

The Association, in a resolution adopted September 13, 1968, at its annual convention, commended the Secretary of the Interior “. . . for attempting to resolve this dispute. . .” but “. . . urges the Congress to enact legislation reaffirming the historic jurisdiction of the states over fish and resident wildlife in order to accomplish a firm and complete resolution of this dispute. . . .”

A detailed analysis of state and federal jurisdiction over fish and wildlife, including the Solicitor's opinion quoted in full, can be found in a report by Swanson et al. (1969: 11-93). The legislation dealing with fish and wildlife is far too complex to review thoroughly here, as evidenced by the fact that a compilation of the federal laws alone fills a volume of 472 pages (Magnuson, 1965b), and that the fish and game laws of individual states commonly require 200 pages or more.


In many states the legislature has delegated to an executive or to the game and fish commission the authority to control hunting and fishing and associated activities through regulations having the effect of law. In any event, laws or regulations tend to be voluminous and complex, designed to serve many purposes. Most important are those to protect fish and wildlife resources, to provide the private landowner with protection, to provide an orderly harvest, to distribute hunting and fishing opportunity as widely as possible, and to produce the income needed for operating the wildlife department. Laws and regulations are very important management tools.

There are, however, other recognized purposes served by state wildlife laws and regulations. Some are designed to facilitate enforcement, such as those requiring the use of tags on various legally taken game and fish. Others designate fish and wildlife as recreational rather than commercial resources, including many that prohibit the sale of game, alive or dead. Still others are intended to promote gun safety; these may require training programs in gun handling, particularly by the young license-buyer, or they may cancel the license of any who have had gun accidents while hunting.

One group of laws or regulations simply discriminates between different segments of the public. Common among these are the regulations that charge nonresidents a higher license fee than residents, and those that grant privileges to certain groups. Many states, for example, permit elderly persons to fish without a license, and many permit landowners to hunt or fish on their own property without a license. A few grant nonresident members of the military services, or college students, the privilege of purchasing a resident license instead of the more expensive out-of-state permit.

Laws designed to protect the fish and wildlife resource are among the most important. Examples include those designating completely closed seasons, prohibitions against hunting and fishing during the breeding period, and establishing certain types of refuges.

Of particular importance to agriculturists are regulations designed to protect them against hunters and fishermen who may abuse the privilege of being a guest on another person's land. Some of these merit more detailed discussion, but the most significant ones, included in the game and fish laws or regulations of many states, embody provisions for posting lands against all trespass if the landowner prefers; for requiring permission of the landowner to hunt; for providing “safety zones” around occupied residential and farm buildings; for limiting the owner's liability in case of accident on his property. Still other laws permit the landowner to safeguard his property from damage by protected wildlife or provide for reimbursement of the landowner for crop damage.

Among the regulations designed to distribute hunting and fishing opportunities as widely as possible are those that establish bag limits and season limits or that limit the types of hunting and fishing by placing emphasis on recreation rather than on the amount of meat to be taken. In this category would be the prohibition against live decoys and baiting, and some of the limitations upon firearms.

Legislative delegation of authority over game and fish regulations to the state administrative agency is in general an effective form of management. It provides flexibility whereby changes can be made from year to year to meet new conditions or as need arises. The extent of such authority varies from the situation in Missouri, where it is vested in the Conservation Commission by the state constitution, to the situation, at the opposite extreme, wherein year-to-year regulations are originated by a committee and passed by the legislature.

The practice of “legislative management,” which deliberately withholds from the commission discretionary powers to make regulations, is most likely to be invoked where measures favored by state technical personnel are not favored by vocal segments of the general public. Thus, appeals are made to representatives in the legislature, who are more likely to be swayed by public sentiment than by the findings and opinions of state wildlife biologists.

Under these circumstances bounties, game farms, and fish hatcheries continued to absorb a disproportionate share of state fish and game budgets long after scientific research had shown good reason for reducing or eliminating them. Handling game regulations through political and legislative channels has had its most important land-use effect in some northern and western states by keeping the controversial buck law in force and thus preventing the adequate harvest of deer herds—a situation that still exists in some states. Overpopulation of deer is likely to occur through the extensive range improvement of large timber cuttings or through fires, and by the elimination of predation as an important mortality factor. In the absence of a heavy hunting harvest, which can be accomplished only by taking both sexes, herds multiply exponentially and quickly damage their ranges.

Experience has shown that, after a developmental phase featuring “legislative management,” range deterioration, and at least local decline in numbers of deer, public understanding may begin to catch up. Partial authority over regulations is then granted to administrators, as political demands slack off and informed groups of sportsmen give support to a scientifically guided program. Eventually, experience convincingly demonstrates to a controlling majority of the public and legislators that the technical agency can be trusted to handle this technical matter.

In decades past, developments of this kind have produced management difficulties and state-federal disagreements, especially on national forests. However, the controversies tend to localize and subside as information spreads and trained people take over higher administrative positions.


Cultivated lands are potentially the most productive of wildlife as well as of field crops, and a major proportion of the game in the United States is taken from them. The most popular species include the pheasant, quail, rabbits, squirrels, doves, and to some extent waterfowl and even deer.

In much of the United States a tradition of free public hunting on private lands is recognized by both landowner and hunter. Customs vary in different parts of the country, but the farmer is often the unwilling host to hunters who enter his land as though it were their right without the formality of asking permission. In a remarkably high proportion of cases this traditional relationship is accepted philosophically by the landowner. With increasing numbers of urban hunters, there has been a growing tendency to abuse the farmer's hospitality. State fish and game departments are appropriately concerned and invoke whatever means they can to improve landowner-sportsman relations.

Some of this effort, unfortunately, is a kind of holding action designed to maintain a relationship that is not actually appropriate under modern conditions. Today's farmer is a businessman in a competitive, highly capitalized, and mechanized industry, which is much more specialized than it was 50 years ago. At the turn of the century a typical farm included a flock of poultry, a herd of dairy cows, an orchard, some acres of feed grain, some swine, and a garden to produce vegetables for home consumption. But the general farm has largely given way to specialized monoculture, which produces much less wildlife. These changes in farming conditions and those associated with an increasing urban population, have been unfavorable to both ecological and social relationships for the sportsman seeking recreation on private land.

It is clear, however, that with appropriate encouragement, public recreation on private farms can continue at an important level. Teague (1966) has brought this out forcefully in an analysis of the conflicts and the mutuality of interests.

Trespass Laws and Enforcement

Although the states legally hold wildlife in trust for the people, the landowner has the legal right to prevent hunters and fishermen from entering his land. The sportsman's license to take game or fish does not give him access to private property without permission. The owner may, in fact, keep others out and use the land for his own exclusive hunting and fishing. Since these outdoor sports are the most common reasons for an individual to seek access to private land, the right of the landowner to prevent it is specifically included in the game and fish laws of most states.

States usually put the responsibility for restricting trespass squarely on the landowner. Arizona, Connecticut, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington are among the states that require the landowner to notify hunters and fishermen either by posting signs or by word-of-mouth warning. In another group of states, represented by Colorado, Delaware, Texas, and Wisconsin, the sportsman is required by law to obtain permission from the landowner to enter his land, and in some, notably Michigan, Nevada, and West Virginia, this permission must be in writing. In actual practice, laws requiring landowner permission for entry are often ignored. With an increasing number of holdings under absentee ownership it is becoming more difficult for hunters or fishermen to secure the required permission.

Violation of the trespass laws is considered a misdemeanor, with penalties designated accordingly. Repeated offenses may result in substantial penalties. In Texas, for example, a third offense could result in a fine as high as $1,000 and revocation of one's hunting license for 3 years.

Since an owner has the legal right to restrict or prevent entry to his land in any of the states, he is indeed a key individual despite the American doctrine of public ownership (trusteeship) of wildlife. It is clear, therefore, as stated in 1930 in the American Game Policy, that the landowner's custodianship of wildlife must be recognized if this recreational resource is to be of public value (Leopold, 1930).

Programs to Encourage Access

The dilemma facing the landowner, the sportsman, and the state game and fish administrator is a difficult one. A large proportion of outdoorsmen cling to the American folkway of free and unregulated hunting, a tradition dating from pioneer times and to a considerable degree no longer appropriate. The attitude is encouraged by the fact that in many states there is a considerable amount of public land on which access for hunting and fishing still is free and unregulated, and many a thoughtless hunter tends to carry over his attitude from the public land to the private.

A farmer engaged in intensive agriculture often cannot afford to permit hunting and fishing on his land if to do so requires any of his time or if there is a possibility of other cost to him, such as damage to crops or property. Landowner situations differ widely, of course, another extreme being represented by large corporations holding forested lands for pulp or timber production. Some corporations have adopted a policy of leasing their lands to private groups for hunting and fishing, while others believe that the gain in public relations is great enough to justify throwing the land open to public use, much as if it were in public ownership.

A widespread and important need is to provide an incentive to the landowner to permit access to his lands or water for hunting and fishing; many states have tested arrangements of this kind with varying success.

State laws commonly provide for artificially stocked hunting or fishing “preserves,” some of which are quite artificial, others relatively natural. This type of arrangement is growing in popularity. In California, according to Teague (1966), a pheasant-hunting club program on private land, provided for by state law, increased from 17 clubs in 1940 to 191 in 1964. Reported use of these areas by hunters rose from 30 man-days per thousand acres in 1940 to 380 man-days in 1963, and pheasant hunters in this program were paying from $275 to $350 for the right to take 40 birds under the state game bird club laws. The birds so taken were reared by private breeders who currently sell more than 250,000 pheasants for this purpose.

In California and other states, notably those in the Mississippi Valley, proprietors able to furnish good waterfowl hunting on their lands frequently have been able to sell the right to individuals or groups for remarkably high prices. Teague noted that many waterfowl hunting clubs in California have long waiting lists, and that people are willing to pay up to $10,000 for a membership. While such duck clubs furnish hunting opportunity for a limited number of license holders, the wetlands habitat they control is recognized as important in providing essential environment for a portion of the North American waterfowl population. Hunting pressure on private waterfowl clubs is usually light, so that the habitat controlled may have a positive protective value to waterfowl as well as a recreational value to hunters.

Some of the states have found that a large proportion of landowners do not demand a cash incentive, but are willing to permit their property to be used by sportsmen if they are assured of adequate protection from vandalism and abuses. One of the oldest and most successful of these arrangements is Pennsylvania's Cooperative Farm Game program, which has been in existence since 1936. Currently, it involves nearly 1½ million acres of privately owned land on more than 12,000 farms in 163 more-or-less consolidated units. In this program the Pennsylvania Game Commission provides efficient protection for the landowners through its radio-equipped game protectors. The commission staff furnishes posters prohibiting trespass in a safety zone around occupied dwellings and assures the landowner of quick enforcement if safety zones are violated.

This program inspired important features of New York's Fish and Wildlife Management Act, which has been operating since 1958. Under this act, protection is similarly provided to the private landowner who will permit hunting on his land, and more than 200,000 acres has been placed under cooperative agreement involving government and institutional lands as well as individual and corporate holdings.

In some other areas, private organizations have taken the initiative in attempting to maintain the right of free public hunting on private land. The Izaak Walton League has promoted in several states the “Hunt America Time” or “Red Hat Program” for improving farmer-sportsman relations through education, and in Colorado and several other states a privately operated program known as “Operation Respect” has similar objectives (Johnson, 1967).

Thus, a wide variety of plans have been developed, mostly by state game and fish departments but in some cases by private organizations, designed to continue recreational hunting and fishing on private lands. Sometimes these arrangements provide the landowner with nothing but good will; others may produce substantial income from the sale of hunting and fishing rights.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, particularly through the Soil Conservation Service but with participation by other units, has been especially active in assisting landowners to develop the recreational potential of their land. In 1966 the Cropland Adjustment Program (CAP) first offered landowners an additional fee under their cropland diversion contracts if they permitted public access for hunting, fishing, trapping, or hiking. This program, being based upon the need to regulate crop surpluses, is temporary, and no appropriations were made for new contracts in fiscal year 1969. The arrangement involves cooperation with state fish and game departments. Some of these agencies were hesitant to participate in an arrangement to pay the landowner for permitting free access to his land for recreational purposes, particularly where there was no assurance of permanence.

However, most states entered into the arrangement actively, and Boyce (1967) reported that 36,000 farmers in 48 states signed 5- to 10-year cropland diversion contracts involving a million acres. In 35 states supplemental public access payment contracts were included for about one quarter of these lands.

Michigan was particularly active, assigning staff from the State Conservation Department to participate in this program. Payments to farmers for public access were established at $1 to $3 per acre, and in 1967 farmers agreed to open more than 125,000 acres of their land to public access. These agreements were almost entirely for hunting. Fishing access involved less than 1 percent. Since a large proportion of the landowners opened all their acreage to public access rather than limiting it to acres specifically diverted under the CAP program, the first year's cost of the access program was $139,000, or $1.11 per acre. This appears to be one of the largest programs of its kind. The mechanism of the Crop Adjustment Program has been described by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1965). Programs to encourage public access to private lands and to improve landowner-sportsman relations have been reviewed by many authors, including the following: Leopold (1940), Whitesell ( 1952), Hunter (1953), Gearhart (1957), Hay (1960), Kozicky (1960), Berryman (1961), Galbreath (1965), and Gilbert (1965).

Another type of access situation currently receiving much attention is that in which a private landowner who prohibits access to his own land in so doing also prohibits access to contiguous public lands that may have much greater area. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are especially concerned about this problem, and in some cases they have solved it by purchasing rights-of-way or easements permitting public access through private areas to the public lands or waters lying beyond. Many of the states have similar programs for purchasing and developing access through private lands. This matter is discussed at some length in a report by Swanson et al. (1969: 148-196).

Liability Laws

A major concern of landowners is that if they permit public access to their lands for hunting and fishing, they may be liable in case of accident and injury to the hunter or fisherman. Many states, in order to meet this particular difficulty, have included in their fish and game or general laws a provision exempting the landowner from liability if he is permitting use of his land free of charge. Such laws have been adopted in part as a result of assistance from the Council of State Governments, which provides the wording of a “model law.”

The typical law of this nature specifically applies only if the landowner is not charging for the privilege of using his land, but the New Jersey law, passed in 1962, does not specify, reading

no landowner . . . shall be liable for the payment of damages suffered resulting from any personal injury to, or the death of, any person while such person was hunting or fishing on the landowner's property, except that such injury or deaths resulted from a deliberate or willful act on the part of such landowner.

To landowners who charge a fee there is, of course, liability insurance available from many private companies. This subject has been reviewed by several authors, including Crews and Bird (1963), Kelsey (1964), Krauz and Lemon (1964), and Leedy (1966).


Limiting the number of hunters on an area is important both to restrict the actual take of wildlife and to satisfy landowners who have permitted public hunting on their property. Specific studies of the matter have shown that property owners are very uneasy lest they be overrun by too many hunters. A variety of methods have been tried for limiting the number. We are concerned here primarily with those serving the interests of the landowner rather than those designed specifically for limiting the kill.

The most common arrangement is undoubtedly one under which the owner leases exclusive privileges to a group of hunters, the number being explicitly limited. The agreement usually calls for the burden of controlling the land to be assumed by the hunters themselves, so that the automobiles be left in particular parking areas where space is deliberately limited. Reports indicate that this has worked effectively.

The Province of Ontario uses a plan in the immediate proximity of large cities under which the counties require a special license issued in limited number. Methods of limiting numbers and controlling distribution of hunters have been discussed by Johnson (1943), Scott (1948), Hunter (1957), and Dimmick and Klimstra (1964).


Game laws or regulations designed to accomplish an appropriate level of harvest have been developed, with many variations. Western states have pioneered in the use of effective big game hunting regulations, because public acceptance has generally been quicker there than in many of the eastern states.

As noted previously, a particularly troublesome big game hunting regulation has been the buck law, restricting hunters to deer carrying antlers of a specific size. The protection of antlerless or female big game was often justified when the population was small and the habitat in good condition. Then the objective of wildlife administrators was to permit a limited amount of hunting, but to encourage continued growth of the big game herds. The devotion of the public to the bucklaw idea became so complete that when the deer population had reached a level at which it should be stabilized and kept in balance with the available forage, people frequently were unwilling to change their views. Many states in the East and Midwest, notably New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, witnessed long and bitter controversies before the general public, including many legislators and game commissioners, was willing to accept the idea that the time had come for a larger kill, requiring the taking of antlerless deer or elk. The western states, in general, have been spared this excessively bitter type of controversy, but in California the problem is so severe that many deer ranges are still overpopulated. It is noteworthy that states that have never employed the buck law, for example, Minnesota and Maine, have generally fewer big game problems and have a better balance between the deer herd and its food and cover plants than states that have used this device.

One of the commonest arrangements that the states have used to limit the number of hunters and distribute them appropriately is that of issuing a specified number of permits for a particular area. If demand for the permits is beyond the specified number, a public lottery is held to select the successful permittees. This device has been used, particularly in the West, for almost all species of big game, including bison in those few states with a surplus to be taken by hunters. In 1967, for example, Colorado issued only three permits for shooting bison, at a charge of $200 per hunter.

Holding drawings to select hunting permittees has been used most commonly for species that are limited in numbers like mountain goats, bighorn, and pronghorn. However, where it has been necessary to limit the kill in a specific region, the permit system has also been used for the commoner deer and elk. This is an effective device for directing hunting pressure where it should be, and gearing it to the population surplus. For the purpose of distributing big game hunting pressure, many states are divided into a large number of units. Colorado, for example, has 95 game management units, any of which may have different hunting regulations from adjoining divisions, which commonly represent watersheds.

In many cases the wildlife administrator has found it desirable to encourage more hunting pressure in certain portions of his state, sometimes because a given area is relatively remote or inaccessible, and tends therefore to be bypassed in favor of easier hunting grounds by most hunters. Several means have been used to encourage heavier hunting. In Colorado the west slope of the Rockies tends to be less heavily hunted in relation to game population density than the east slope, which is nearer the larger cities. In some years hunting regulations have called for opening the season on the west slope a week or two earlier than in the east, thus attracting the opening-day pressure to the area where it is needed. For the same purpose the purchase of multiple licenses by a single hunter is permitted in Colorado's less accessible back country. Other states sometimes provide an incentive in lightly hunted areas by allowing gunners to take one or more animals beyond the normal limit—often this is a “camp deer” or “party deer” of either sex. Where a buck law has been in effect, simply opening the season to an “any deer” type of hunt will bring about a far higher kill than is possible under sex and age restrictions.

Under some conditions an any-deer season results in an excessive kill—which means that the herd falls below the level that can produce the most while conserving browse resources. Indiana had this experience when an easily accessible range was opened to liberalized hunting. Restricted hunting probably is needed in the semiagricultural regions of most states where road networks and the nature of the woodland permit heavy hunting to eliminate a high proportion of the deer. Under these conditions the states frequently issue a limited number of permits for taking antlerless animals—deer or elk, as the case may be. This practice has resulted in a more orderly hunt than can be achieved, for example, by setting a brief season of a day or two on antlerless deer at the end of the regular buck-hunting season.

From the large number of different regulatory devices developed by the states for adjusting hunting pressure in specific areas, it is clear that no one arrangement is always satisfactory, and undoubtedly more variations will be developed in years to come. It is characteristic that American big game hunters prefer a minimum of regimentation and would oppose the tight restrictions frequently applied in European big game hunts.


As described by Leopold (1933), predator control was chronologically second only to hunting restrictions in its development as a wildlife management measure, and also in its general popularity and adoption years ago. In North America several of the colonies established bounties for the destruction of wolves in the seventeenth century (Massachusetts by 1630, New Hampshire by 1679, and Pennsylvania by 1683). The objective of predator control was primarily the protection of domestic stock. However, the belief (very often a myth) that predation was a limiting factor on wildlife populations, and therefore an important one to control, has been widespread, and even today has many adherents.

Bounty Systems

The payment of bounties for controlling predators is still popular, despite the fact that it has been thoroughly discredited (Allen, 1962). In recent years several authors have reviewed the status of bounty payments, and Laun (1962) reported that 34 states were paying bounties for predator control in 1960, with an estimated annual cost, including administration, of between three and four million dollars. In the 23 states that supplied cost figures for 1960 the total was $1,475,000, of which the largest sum was for Michigan, where $245,000 was expended. In a large proportion of cases, counties or lesser units offered bounty payments even though the state government itself or its fish and game department had abandoned the practice. In California, the State Department of Fish and Game paid bounties on crows and black-billed magpies only, while nine counties operated their own systems of bounty payment for coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, and even bluejays. Archaic systems of bounty payment, particularly by county boards of supervisors, are conspicuous anachronisms in a period when professional resource managers so universally recognize the waste and futility of the system.

In Minnesota, for example, it was hailed by conservation groups and wildlife administrators as an important victory when in 1965 the bounty on wolves, coyotes, foxes, and lynx was finally eliminated by the governor's veto. The remnant population of timber wolves in northeastern Minnesota has officially been designated “endangered” under the program of rare and endangered fish and wildlife of the United States, and all possible protective measures are urged. Unfortunately, the 1969 Minnesota legislature reinstated bounty payments, limited by administrative discretion.

In 1967, Oregon, through its Game Commission, designated the mountain lion as a game species with a completely closed season, pending investigation of the possibility that the population was sufficient to permit restricted hunting (Oregon State Game Commission, 1967). At the same time eight counties in the state were paying bounties ranging from $5 to $15 for destruction of the animal. The bounty system, despite the evidence against it, is dying a slow death.

Protection of Predatory Animals

Passage by Congress in 1966 of the Endangered Species Act (80 Stat. 926) for the first time gave broad responsibility to the Fish and Wildlife Service to study and to recommend protective measures for rare and endangered species of wildlife. In that year the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife published a compilation entitled “Rare and Endangered Fish and Wildlife of the United States.” A single page devoted to each species includes both vital Statistics and recommended protective measures. Many of the species in this category are predatory mammals and birds, including the timber wolf, red wolf, kit fox, blackfooted ferret, peregrine falcon, and southern bald eagle. The attention focused on these predators and the need for their protection promises to be highly beneficial. Without adequate knowledge of a species' population and ecology, measures to protect it cannot be realistic and effective.

Hawks and owls provide a particularly good example of groups toward which public attitude, and consequently legislation, has changed over the years. General bird protection laws were widely adopted beginning about 1900 as a result of efforts by the Audubon Society to promote the “Model Audubon Law.” This statement classified hawks and owls as generally beneficial (e.g., the broad-winged hawk), harmful (peregrine falcon and Cooper's hawk), or neutral (the marsh hawk). Laws passed in those days generally recognized these categories, providing token protection for the beneficial hawks and none for the harmful.

According to Chrest (1964), in 1899 only five states offered legal protection of any kind to eagles, hawks, and owls. This number has now increased to 46 states, but the degree of protection varies widely. The inadequacy of state protection of birds of prey was recognized early enough so that in 1940 Congress passed the original Bald Eagle Protection Act because the bird had been designated by the Continental Congress in 1782 as our national symbol, and because “the bald eagle is now threatened with extinction.”

Soon after enactment of this act, an important weakness was recognized—namely, that a bald eagle in immature plumage is so easily mistaken for the golden eagle that many were shot by poorly informed persons in the belief, or at least with the rationalization, that they were shooting unprotected golden eagles. In 1962, therefore, the Bald Eagle Act was amended to extend legal protection also to the golden eagle, which was recognized in the enacting clause as having “declined at such an alarming rate that it is now threatened with extinction” and that it “should be preserved because of its value to agriculture in the control of rodents” and “because the bald eagle is often killed by persons mistaking it for the golden eagle.”

Except for this act, birds of prey are not protected by federal law, because such species were not included in either the 1916 Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada or the 1937 treaty with Mexico. These birds, as well as certain other groups, were omitted from the treaties because attempts to include them might have delayed or prevented approval by Congress, and thus jeopardized the protection of less controversial species. Since many of the hawks and some of the owls are clearly migratory, it would have been legally possible to gain protection for them in this manner, but emphasis in the treaty with Canada was to protect migratory game birds, as “a source of food” and migratory insectivorous birds that destroy “insects which are injurious to forest and forage plants on the public domain, as well as to agricultural crops.” The justification for the later treaty with Mexico was “to employ adequate measures which will permit a rational utilization of migratory birds for the purpose of sport as well as for food, commerce and industry.” Thus the birds of prey, so widely recognized now as being particularly valuable and interesting components of our fauna and in need of protection, were completely neglected in federal law.

Whether the legal protection of migratory birds is under federal law or state law, actual enforcement is primarily by state “conservation officers” or “game protectors” since federal “game management agents” are so few. Without the close cooperation of state officials, federal wildlife laws cannot be enforced effectively.

Since the states have full legal jurisdiction over all other species of hawks and owls, it is gratifying that their laws have increasingly provided legal protection. By 1965, according to Clement (1965), 19 states gave legal protection to all hawks and owls, and 26 others protected some species. Only five states offered no protection to the birds of prey. Unfortunately, enforcement of this protection usually is inadequate, but the mere fact that protection exists in the law has certainly reduced the indiscriminate shooting of hawks and owls, which was so common only a few years ago.

Species of hawks that appear to be in greatest danger of extirpation in parts of their range are suffering more from reduced reproductive success than from shooting or other direct losses (Sprunt, 1963). The osprey, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and marsh hawk have declined alarmingly in the eastern United States (and in portions of western Europe) in the past decade, and it has become clear that the immediate cause is lack of successful reproduction. It is suspected that the ultimate cause is related to the widespread use of persistent pesticides of the chlorinated hydrocarbon group and their effect upon the calcium metabolism of the birds, and considerable research is in progress in the United States and the United Kingdom to determine to what extent this is true. (See Chapter 6 for a discussion of the effects of persistent pesticides in the environment, and for an analysis also of legislation and regulations relating to these materials.)

Legal Impediments to Blackbird Control

The depredations of blackbirds upon corn and other crops have increased in recent years to such an extent that the damage is considered “severe” in 17 states. A summary of the 1967 North American Conference on Blackbird Depredation in Agriculture (Anon., 1967) brings out many of the problems associated with control of these depredations, and state law is designated as one of the hindrances. The director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture pointed out that “. . . in Ohio, as in most other states, blackbirds may be killed only when they are damaging or about to damage a crop—except Sunday when they are protected.”

As more effective control methods become available it is possible that bird protection laws will have to be so modified as to permit these methods to be used.


In most states the income that meets the costs of managing fish and wildlife resources comes mainly from sales of hunting and fishing licenses. In addition, the states receive federal aid under the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 for wildlife restoration and the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 for sport fishery restoration and management. In some states the fines from convicted violators of the fish and game laws also are used to support the fish and game department.

The tradition of providing financial support for administering the fish and wildlife resource entirely from hunting and fishing licenses is well established. It was a provision of the federal aid acts that, to qualify for benefits, a state must formally earmark hunting and fishing license income for the use of its fish and game administration.

This earmarking of funds under the principle that “the user pays” has been applied to some extent on the federal level also, under the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act of 1934 and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965. The former act was intended to raise funds for land acquisition and development and maintenance of a system of national waterfowl refuges, and the latter applies to outdoor recreation broadly, with primary objectives of encouraging long-range planning for outdoor recreation, and land and water acquisition for the same purpose.

It is now being increasingly recognized, at state levels as well as federal, that the social values of fish and wildlife are so great and so diverse that it is neither appropriate nor adequate to finance the management of this resource entirely from license holders, who comprise a small minority of the public. A few states have recognized this, and are now supplementing hunting and fishing license income with general tax revenue in order to provide more adequate support for conservation programs. The California Fish and Wildlife Plan of 1966 estimates that between 1965 and 1980 the cost of maintaining today's program in the Department of Fish and Game will total approximately $8.2 million, while new license buyers will provide only $4.2 million. It is recommended that current sources of income be augmented with general fund revenues to supply the deficit. In New York State this same situation was recognized in 1968 when the legislature provided from general revenue approximately one third of the budget of the Fish and Game Division.

The conclusion seems clear that earmarked funds, particularly from hunting and fishing licenses, will not be sufficient in the future to meet the costs of managing the fish and wildlife resource for the people at large.


Water laws vary considerably from state to state and are exceedingly important in the management of fish and wildlife. The legal status of surface water is drastically different between the 17 western states (Dakotas to Texas and westward), where the doctrine of prior appro priation applies, and the eastern states, which employ variations of the riparian doctrine.

In its simplest form, the riparian doctrine permits any use by riparian landowners that returns the water to its streambed “undiminished in quantity or quality”. This may be possible for certain nonconsumptive uses, such as waterwheels and fisheries. The opposite extreme is represented in western states, where frequently the entire flow of a stream is appropriated and used, leaving nothing whatever for fish habitat or recreational activities. Under this doctrine it is not unusual for a river to be completely “turned off” for a period of weeks or months.

Three features of the appropriation doctrine are in sharp conflict with fish and wildlife interests: (1) Water is legally appropriated to be diverted from its natural course; (2) most states allow the appropriation of all the water from a stream; and (3) fish and wildlife are not ordinarily recognized as a “beneficial use” or, if so, it is so subordinate to such uses as irrigation that the legal recognition is meaningless.

The subject of water law has been under scrutiny in all the contiguous 48 states because of conflicting demands for water and its increasing importance. Many changes have been made and are being considered. Among numerous publications on water law, several have been found particularly relevant, and they are the basis for this review. Water law in general or in relation to agricultural use has been treated by Williams (1950), Busby (1955), the University of Michigan (1955), Black (1960), Harding (1960), and Johnson (1965). The specific area of water law in the western states in relation to fish and wildlife has been reviewed by Denman (1957), Gordon (1958), Voigt (1958), Binford (1959), Lynch (1959), and Whitney (1964).

In 31 eastern states, where water is more plentiful, its relationships generally are outside the scope of this treatment. The questions of water pollution and its legal control, and of accelerated eutrophication of waters, have been treated in other reviews. The 17 western states, therefore, deserve particular attention here.

These western states have water laws based upon the appropriative doctrine, “first in time, first in right.” Nine of the states included a basic water law in their constitutions, beginning with Texas in 1845 and ending with New Mexico in 1912. The other eight have statutory water law, beginning with Oregon in 1859.

Though the doctrine has been recently slightly modified in the coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California, the basic doctrine is inimical to fish and wildlife because it assumes that appropriated water must be diverted from its natural bed, and there is no provision requiring a minimum flow. Fish and wildlife thus have no legal right to water. In dry years the water in a stream may be far over-appropriated, so that the owners of first water rights may use the entire flow for irrigation, municipal, or industrial purposes, whether or not it is used efficiently, and later appropriators (and fish and wildlife interests) have none.

It is a provision of the doctrine that appropriative rights go with the land, not the landowner, but even this feature cannot be exploited in the interest of fish and wildlife, as illustrated by the experience of the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. The Department purchased submarginal lands for the purpose of securing the water rights that went with them, but the water was to be left in its natural course as habitat for fish and game. The courts, however, ruled that since there was no active diversion of the water, the appropriative rights were invalid (Binford, 1959).

Binford also cites cases in Montana in which it was proposed to divert water from the streambed to fish-rearing ponds. This too was ruled invalid by the court because, in the conflict between irrigation and fish, the fish have lower priority. In several states efforts have been made to pass legislation that would classify fish and wildlife uses as beneficial, but these were opposed successfully by agricultural interests.

Increasing demands for recreation have resulted in some states recognizing the recreational values of water, and amendments to the original appropriative doctrine have been passed by the legislatures of the three west coast states. Each of these now has laws that provide for minimum flows in streams for preservation of fish and wildlife. Denman (1957) describes how the Oregon Game Commission, in testing the recent State Water Resources Act, requested a minimum flow of 200 cfs in the Deschutes River below the Wickiup Dam. Although granted only 20 cfs, the Commission established the important precedent of a minimum stream flow for fish and game in a western state.

In a 1957 amendment, California water law classified fish and game as beneficial users, on an equal basis with other users, and Gordon (1958) describes numerous water rights held by the Department of Fish and Game for fish hatcheries and rearing ponds, and for waterfowl management areas.

Missouri's water law requires State Conservation Department review and approval before any obstruction is built in a watercourse. If passage of fish is blocked, the department may require that either a hatchery or a fish ladder be constructed. This law has also been used as a basis for negotiating a minimum waterflow over or through a dam.

Washington's water law also places fish and wildlife on an equal basis with other beneficial users, and provides further that streambeds may not be disturbed by construction projects without consultation with, and consent of, the director of fisheries and the director of game (Binford, 1959). Pertinent sections of the amended water law of Washington are worth quoting since they are in such sharp contrast with most other western states:

75.20.050. It is hereby declared to be the policy of this state that a flow of water sufficient to support game fish and food fish populations be maintained at all times in streams of this state.

75.20.060. Every dam or other obstruction across or in any stream shall be provided with a durable and efficient fishway . . . as the director may approve. . . .

75.20.100. In the event that any person or government agency desires to construct any form of hydraulic project that will lower, divert, obstruct or change the natural flow or bed of any river . . . , such person or government agency shall submit . . . plans and specifications of the proposed construction . . . and shall secure the written approval of director of fisheries and director of game. . . .

Particularly important is Montana's Stream Preservation Act of 1964, described by Whitney (1964). Its provisions are similar to the last section of Washington's water law in that it protects watercourses from damage by such construction projects as highways. The act requires that the Montana Department of Game and Fish be notified 60 days prior to the construction of any project that might damage a watercourse.

The Department thus has the opportunity to recommend alternatives to prevent or mitigate the damage. The act has reportedly been highly successful in protecting fishery resources, but a serious weakness is that it applies only to other state agencies, not to federal or private construction.

It is clear that among the very important legislative problems in the fish and wildlife field are those relating to water, and to the preservation of streams from unnecessary damage.


In major decisions affecting resource management, the people act through their government by means of available political machinery. The members of Congress give support and direction to a cause as they are influenced by its proponents. They may withhold such sanction when opponent forces state their case effectively. It is inherent in our legislative process that the will of the public usually is served and that it is made known through hearings and other representations of citizens.

An acknowledged feature of this system is the right of entrepreneurs in every economic field to promote legislation favorable to their business interests. Such activities are an allowable business expense under provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. These regulations apply to the users and developers of natural resources and have long governed our public management of land and water.

Somewhat different concepts apply to the activities of citizens who attempt to affect resource decisions for reasons other than profit (see Borod, 1968). When they incorporate in conservation organizations for purposes they conceive to be in the public interest, their contributions to the organization (if eligible) are tax deductible. However, the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the use of any substantial part of that income for influencing legislation. A case of this kind came to national attention when The Sierra Club lost its tax-deductible status in 1966 for advertising in leading newspapers as part of its campaign to prevent the construction of dams in the Grand Canyon. In the year following, the club reported the loss of $125,000 in gifts (San Francisco Chronicle, March 14, 1968).

In discussing this situation, Patterson (1967) pointed out that the interests who stand to gain by certain decisions commonly have ample funds to pursue their cause, while those speaking for the general public do not. He noted that “The final irony is that the law protects itself; they cannot fight to have it changed.”

Especially among the larger, more responsible, conservation organizations of the nation, there is a growing feeling that they should have similar financial privileges in working for or against legislation as their counterparts in labor and industry have.


Much of the legislation discussed here has had the effect of putting a restraint on the users of fish and wildlife, and this effect will always be important. However, there have been many state laws and acts of Congress dealing with problems of environment essential to wildlife. The aim may be habitat preservation or rehabilitation, or in some cases the development of entirely new habitats. Unfortunately, destructive forces continue to increase also, as a consequence of population growth, technological developments, and social demands, so this preoccupation with habitat is well justified.

Some of the significant federal acts have been mentioned in other connections. Thus, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929 is legal authority for the system of National Wildlife Refuges, and the Federal Aid Acts (Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson) of 1937 and 1950 provided that the States might use funds from these sources for the development of habitat. Public Law 83-566, the Small Watersheds Act, though enacted primarily for flood control purposes, included provisions for creation of fish and wildlife habitat. The Federal Water Quality Act of 1965, as amended, will have exceedingly important beneficial effects upon water quality for fish in particular, because the standards it imposes are in so many cases higher than those that the states were employing. The Agricultural Conservation Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, effective in 1936, has encouraged wildlife habitat developments on farms and ranches through federal cost sharing and has resulted in the building of many thousands of farm and ranch ponds. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 provides still another source of funds that are being used in part for creation of new ponds and lakes for recreational use. Others are less direct, but still constructive, in their influence upon habitat restoration, preservation, or development, but in the aggregate they demonstrate an increasing ecologic awareness on the part of the American public.


The technologies of agriculture and of fish and wildlife management have developed so rapidly in recent decades that in most situations they are far ahead of what we can apply. Legislation and administration have lagged far behind, so that there are many examples of unresolved conflicts of interest, duplications of effort, lack of coordination or cooperation, and overlapping jurisdiction involving fisheries, wildlife, agriculture, and other land uses. The challenge of the future will be to develop legislation and patterns of administration that will make it possible to cooperate and focus a coordinated effort, giving full consideration to the many interests that are involved.

A rare opportunity to improve legislation is available to the Public Land Law Review Commission and the Congress, for the Commission was required to submit its recommendations by June 30, 1970. The recommendations were developed from a series of some 30 comprehensive studies conducted during the past 5 years. If and when adopted by the Congress and the public land managing agencies, these recommendations can have a tremendous influence on future conservation programs directly affecting approximately a third of the land area of the United States.


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Copyright © National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK208748


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