Access to Federal Lands

Archive Report

Showdown in Washington

New Push for Resources Development

Since the frontier closed, the United States has been weighing what to do with a splendid heritage of land in the American West. For nearly a century, the federal government has debated the merits of tapping rich public resources or preserving magnificent wilderness. Now James G. Watt, President Reagan's outspoken secretary of the interior, may be forcing a showdown in the historic conflict between putting the nation's resources to use and saving the land for the future.

The outcome could determine the West's destiny — and influence the whole country's well-being. Over the last 20 years, under Republican and Democratic presidents alike, the government has moved to protect national parks, forests, rangelands and offshore waters from abuse while managing ...

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