Seldom Was Heard
A History of Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement
by Dennis McLane
Released in August 2012 by
Shoppe Foreman Publishing
Seldom Was Heard an Encouraging Word
is a comprehensive history of the development of law enforcement in the Bureau of
Land Management and its predecessors – the General Land Office and the Grazing
Service. Author Dennis McLane lived and helped shape much of this history as
a BLM Ranger in the Barstow Resource Area, Chief Ranger in the California
Desert District, Chief Ranger in the California State Office, and Chief
Ranger in the Washington D.C. Office. In 1996, he was promoted to BLM
Deputy Chief of Law Enforcement.
told stories about sodbusters and cowpokes. But there were squatters,
ranchers, speculators, timber thieves, Indian pot hunters, motorcyclists,
marijuana growers, and others who wanted to illegally take the public
lands and resources for their own. McLane presents the view of those
who had to keep the peace on the public lands of the United States.
The homestead acts were intended to dispose of the public lands to honest
farmers. But conspiring men abused the land entry laws for their own greedy
gain. Western cattlemen controlled vast areas of public rangeland. When
the settlers came, some of the cattlemen illegally fenced them out. The
General Land Office surveyed the lands and received the claims of the
settlers. Their “special agents” did their best to see that the
land entry laws were obeyed.
Timber barons stole valuable trees from the vast public timberlands. Some
timber barons used “dummy” homesteaders to fraudulently take ownership of
huge tracts of public land. One massive land fraud case led to the
indictment of a senator, a congressman, and the Commissioner of
the General Land Office.
McLane recounts the struggles of the General Land Office and the Grazing
Service to establish control over the public lands. These two agencies merged
to form the Bureau of Land Management in 1946, but the struggle to enforce
the public land laws continued. After much heated debate, the BLM was
granted the much needed law enforcement authority by Congress. A new
foundation of special agents and rangers had to be built to serve
the investigative and enforcement needs of the BLM. Despite
intensive political scrutiny, these Government agents
fought hard to protect the lands and resources of the Nation.
Seldom Was Heard an Encouraging Word is available in soft cover at
Amazon.com. It is 545 pages of text and appendices. A
comprehensive index is included.