1929 President Herbert Hoover’s Speech

The States' rights movement received a powerful nudge in 1929 when President Herbert Hoover proposed that unallocated federal lands be transferred to state control. In a speech presented in Salt Lake City, Utah, Hoover responded to ranchers' complaints about federal fees on grazing allotments by suggesting that management of open lands should fall to state jurisdiction. Hoover excluded mineral rights from this proposal, in order to retain valuable gas and oil leases for federal coffers.

Following Hoover's speech, he appointed a commission to study his plan, and a bill reflecting his suggestions was later introduced to Congress. In part because of the mineral rights exclusion, the bill failed to draw industry or popular support. Furthermore, a prominent member of Hoover's commission -- former U.S. Forest Service chief William B. Greeley -- refused to sign the final report because it included vague conditions that could lead to a transfer of national forest lands to state control.

Finally, in 1934, the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act placed grazing lands under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Grazing Service in the Department of the Interior and established modest conditions for grazing reform. The Grazing Service merged with the General Land Office in 1946 to create the Bureau of Land Management.



"Public Lands, States' Rights, and the National Forests" by Dennis M. Roth, The Forest Service History Line, Fall 1980 (History Section, USDA-FS).