Prairie and dirt road with hills in distance

Federal lands in public hands

The long history of Congressional intent to keep public lands public

Bob Keiter is the Wallace Stegner Professor of Law, University Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Wallace Stegner Center of Land, Resources, and the Environment

Federal Lands Infographic - for text equivalent, see chart below

Your Federal Public Lands

The United States of America is unique in the world for its vast system of federal public lands, which make up more than a quarter of the country’s land area. Those federal lands, mostly concentrated in the 11 westernmost states and Alaska, span everything from rivers and canyons to sagebrush steppe and alpine peaks.

Two people on a canoe in a lake

Why We Have Federal Land

The citizens and leaders behind our public land heritage

On June 30, 1864, the US Senate approved a grant of federal land to the state of California, a tract in the Sierra Nevada at the headwaters of the Merced River “known as the Yo-semite valley…with the stipulation…that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation…for all time.”

National monument picture at sunset

National Monuments and Local Concerns

What it means to have protected public lands in your backyard

Waves lap the shoreline. An endless stellar canopy shimmers in the ink-colored sky. Smoky fragrance drifts from a campfire, and 20 middle school students sit around the dancing flames.

skier shadow on snow

Consuming Experiences Instead of Stuff

What quiet recreationists bring to the outdoor economy and how to reach them

With BLM maps in hand and fragments of descriptions from locals, Eric Krszjzaniek searches for an old Indian village in Wyoming’s Shirley Basin. As he walks across the landscape, he pauses often to reference his Rockhounding in Wyoming guide and note the types of rocks in the area.

Painting of deer crossing road

A Different Kind of Map

Social science reveals the contours of wildlife migration’s human dimensions

On an early June morning, I found Jessi Johnson and her hunting partner loading up a bright red pickup, deep in discussion about the best spot to scout for bedded-down deer.

wind-blow, old, dead trees in field of sagebrush


An essay

Sunlight and wind circled me, a girl looking out over the Red Desert and the small stream below. Perched next to a gnarled, twisted juniper that had been dead for my entire life, I sat at the edge of the draw that held the green meadow

Aspen trees with aspen leaf in foreground

What to Do with Wilderness Study Areas?

A collaborative stakeholder group negotiates a solution

On a sunny afternoon in early May, twelve people sat around plastic tables in a classroom in the Carbon County Higher Education Center in Rawlins, Wyoming.

Broken fence with hills and buttes in background - watercolor painting

Rebel Yell

Why the Sagebrush Rebellion didn’t end with Malheur

“The Court excludes Dr. Cawley’s testimony as irrelevant and finds, in any event, that its probative value is significantly outweighed by the risk of confusing the issues, misleading the jury, and wasting time.” Here’s the backstory.

Spring Snowstorm at Obsidian Creek with grizzly bears

Return of the Grizzly

No longer federally protected, is the great bear ready to strike out on its own?

In the early 20th century, tourists gathered around dump pits in Yellowstone National Park to watch grizzlies devour trash.

A black footed ferret sits on the edge of its burrow in grass.

New Neighbors

Wyoming ranchers are key to black-footed ferret recovery

Lenox Baker’s hands gripped the steering wheel, and the large silver ring on his finger glinted, revealing an outline of a black-footed ferret.

Collaborate or Litigate

Collaborate or Litigate

Local collaboration faces off against outsider litigation in the long, slow process to help a threatened species

From his Chevy Silverado, Phil Fine watched heavy rain fill up an irrigation ditch on his family farm in central Oregon.

Illustrations of wolf, bear, and sagegrouse

Modernizing the Act

As calls for ESA reform have conservationists on high alert, western governors offer a way forward

“Here’s the problem. The Endangered Species Act isn’t working today,”

Illustration of people watching from railing while ghosts of animals rise into a night sky


A meditation on extinction

No more northern white rhinos live in the wild, and the three in captivity are too old to reproduce.

Botanist Emma Freeland pauses to sniff a half buried blowout penstemon in Wyoming. Photo by Bonnie Heidel

Wyoming’s Only Endangered Plant

A tale of re-discovery

In the 1850s, the geologist Ferdinand Hayden crossed the Nebraska Sandhills on an expedition to map uncharted territory and chronicle its natural resources.

sage grouse

A Win-Win Situation

What’s good for sage grouse is good for landowners

I met Peter John Camino in the lobby of the Johnson County Public Library in Buffalo, Wyoming.

A lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae) sips nectar from an agave blossom.

To the Bat Cave!

Conservationists turn to tourism to protect endangered bats

In the 1980s, more than 50,000 visitors toured Colossal Cave annually.

Tortoise on leaves

Lesson from a Tortoise

The Endangered Species Act works best when it’s never invoked

A first encounter with a gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) may not leave a lasting impression in one’s mind;

Energy Transition

Energy Transition

Our world needs more energy and less CO2

The world needs more energy. More than 1.4 billion people live without access to electricity.