The Economics of Public Land Management

North Carolina has 1.3M acres of Forest Service land and over 360,000 acres of National Parkland. Public lands provide recreational value to millions of Americans each year. They also provide livelihoods in service and extractive industries in neighboring communities and billions of dollars in mineral royalty revenues. Yet how lands are managed by the government is not well understood. I examine how agency politics and procedural laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) affect public land management choices. I currently have projects focused on three areas:

  1. Energy development on public lands and the role of NEPA.
  2. The origin and structure of the National Park Service and its ongoing role in managing “America’s Treasures.”
  3. The economics of wildfire mitigation and the role of NEPA

In addition, I do a lot of work on American Indian Reservations which are held in trust by the U.S. Federal Government. Although these are not puiblic lands, but instead the lands of independent tribal governments, many of the issues in dealing with federal ownership are similar.