Conclusion: Public Lands and Policy Change
The public lands policy arena was once characterized by easy access to the development of natural resources with little or no thought given to environmental impacts. Policymaking was restricted to a small number of western legislators, administrators, and clientele groups with common programmatic interests. Although land management decisions were made in a value context that was sympathetic to policy goals such as economic growth and the settlement of the West, traditional user groups have never maintained a cordial working relationship with federal land management agencies. The development of political support for noncommodity policies affecting wilderness, parks, and wildlife varies considerably. Change is more evident in some program areas than others. Key explanatory variables that were found to be important regardless of substantive policy focus included the increasing presence and influence wielded by environmental groups and the partisan orientation of presidential administrations.