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Environmental Science Research Guide

Background Info Resources

Print and Internet "reference" resources on the development of public lands in the United States, federal agencies responsible for their management, and the laws that govern management policy

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

  • Encyclopedia of American Forest and Conservation History (Davis) 1983 (SD 143 E53 1983) 2 vols. Articles cover people, government agencies, organizations, forest product development, and major legislation and policies in forestry and conservation. Appendices include a listing of U.S. national forests and national parks with citations to the legal action establishing them, original acreage and current acreage; and a chronology of federal legislation in conservation.


  • Organizations--General
    • Conservation Directory (National Wildlife Federation) Annual (S 920 C64) Lists federal, state, and some international agencies; national and regional organizations, commissions, and citizen's groups involved in natural resource use and management. Includes brief descriptions and key personnel.
  • Organizations--United States
    • Federal Regulatory Directory (Congressional Quarterly) Biennial (KF 5408 A15 F4) Comprehensive guide to federal regulatory agencies. Lists laws under which agencies derive their regulatory responsibilities.
    • USA.gov (US General Services Administration) Portal to government information and services. Also includes a directory of federal and state agencies..
    • United States Government Manual (National Archives and Records Administration) Annual (JK 421 A3) Directory of federal agencies. Entries include a short description of responsibilities, agency officials and contacts, reference to legislative acts which established an agency, and references to organizational statements in the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Organizations--California


Background Overviews

  • Federal Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and Resource Management (Vincent) 2004 (Congressional Research Service Report RL 32393) Provides background on current Federal land and resource ownership, historical development of the Nation's land and settlement laws, and 4 current natural resources agencies: US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service. There are many other Congressional Research Reports that concern related environmental policy.
  • Federal Land and Resource Management: A Primer (Gorte) 1998 (Congressional Research Service Report RS20002) Summarizes the permitted and prohibited uses of lands managed by the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Managment and US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Government Agencies (Whitnah) 1983 (JK 421 G65 1983) Contains narrative histories of federal agencies along with bibliographies of sources "for additional information."
  • History of Public Land Law Development (Gates and Swensen) 1968 (print copy available in Docs Y3 P96/7:2 H62) Prepared for the US Public Land Law Review Commission as background material for work by the commission.
  • History of Public Land Policies (Hibbard) 1965 (HD 216 H5 1965)

Legal Resources

See Environmental/Natural Resources Law for general materials.

Geospatial Resources


See the Geospatial Resources research guide for a categorized list of print and digital geospatial resources available in the HSU Library or on the Internet. For public land maps of California see California Maps - Land Use and Ownership


  • Public Land Statistics (US Bureau of Land Management) Annual (print copy available in Docs I 53.1/2) Includes statistics on land acres, revenue, horse numbers, fire acres, recreation use, and other statistics related to the mission of the BLM.
  • Annual Report of Lands Under Control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (US Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Land Areas of the National Forest System (US Forest Service) Annual (print copies available in Docs A 13.10) Annual statistical tables showing areas of individual national forests, wilderness areas, etc.
  • Major Uses of Land in the United States (US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service) Most recent inventory of major land uses in the United States based on Census of Agriculture and other sources. The report summarizes cropland, forest, pasture and range, and miscellaneous and special uses such as urban, recreational, and parkland. The first inventory dates from 1945 and is updated at 5 year intervals. The entire time series is available as the Major Land Uses data set from the Economic Research Service.