[Public Land Statistics, 1996]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a variety of programs to protect public health, safety, and property. The Bureau is responsible for protecting public lands from illegal dumping of hazardous materials, theft of Federal property, misuse of resources, and wildfire. Fiscal year 1996 was not a typical year for wildfires and will probably go in the record book as one of the worst fire seasons of record. The BLM suppressed more than four times the Federal and State public land acreage as would have burned in a normal fire year. When hazardous stances are discovered on public lands, the BLM acts quickly to eliminate risks to the public.

Table 6-1 provides summary numbers and acres burned by wildfires on BLM lands and those other lands BLM protects through agreements with local fire protection agencies. During fiscal year 1996, a substantial increase in wildfires occurred.

Table 6-2 describes capital improvements on public lands. Capital improvements provide opportunities for the public to use their public lands. The BLM has made large capital investments to meet the ever-increasing demands of customers. Very few capital improvements are made annually, but significant resources are devoted to maintaining these investments to assure public healthy and safety.

Table 6-3 provides an overview of environmental problems addressed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund. The public lands provide opportunities for a variety of commercial uses and, sometimes, illegal activities. Both commercial and illegal activities have created hazardous waste sites on public lands. Over 60 percent of these sites are the result of commercial uses. The commercial uses causing the vast majority of CERCLA problems on public lands are landfills, mining operations, mill sites, airstrips, and oil and gas operations. Illegal activities such as trespass dumping, wire burning, and drug manufacturing account for almost 40 percent of hazardous waste sites on public lands.