Illegal and Unauthorized Activities on Public Lands--A Problem With Serious Implications

Gao ID: CED-82-48 March 10, 1982

GAO reviewed the federal role in providing outdoor recreation in California and Oregon.

GAO noted that field officials at selected locations of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service are not always effectively enforcing laws relating to illegal and unauthorized activities on public lands. Although the magnitude and seriousness of crimes such as burglary and larceny, marihuana cultivation, timber thefts, and trespassing are not fully known, available evidence indicates that such activities are widespread and increasing on BLM and Forest Service lands. Field officials of the National Park Service (NPS) are doing a better job of enforcing laws and regulations; nevertheless, there is currently an increase in crimes against people and their property. In each of the three agencies, management constraints such as travel, vehicle, and duty restrictions limit efficient and effective law enforcement activities. Limited agency resources and the remoteness of the land contribute to the rise of illegal and unauthorized activities. However, the agencies' top management did not believe that a serious problem existed. This was due, in part, to a lack of information on these kinds of activities on the public lands managed by the agencies nationwide. The Department of the Interior has not developed an effective, uniform, and timely management information system as GAO previously recommended. The information system of the Forest Service is new, thus statistics are not yet available for the entire nation.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: James Duffus Iii Team: General Accounting Office: Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division Phone: (202) 512-7756

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