1946 Senator Robertson Bill

Senator Edward V. Robertson picked up the grazing interests' States' rights torch following World War II by introducing a bill to Congress that would cede unreserved federal lands to the states, including all lands administered by the U.S. Grazing Service. Robertson's bill further stated that national forest lands not devoted to multiple use management should be sold. Similar bills were introduced by Nevada Senator Pat McCarran and Wyoming Congressman Frank Barrett.

This "land grab" effort finally stirred enough public outrage -- with the help of well-placed articles by historian Bernard DeVoto and Oregon Senator Richard Neuberger -- to subdue the grazing industry, though the 1946 formation of the Bureau of Land Management came as a by-product.

In an apparent effort to slap the agency for its resistance to land transfers, in 1947 Congressman Barrett organized a number of public meetings in Colorado and Wyoming in which ranchers lashed out at Forest Service grazing policies. When meetings were held in Utah, however, the public spoke in favor of the Forest Service programs to improve range and protect water quality from flooding.



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

"They're Fixing to Steal Your Land" by Ted Trueblood, Field and Stream (ca. 1980).