Welcome to the Federal land management law enforcement history website. The purpose of the website is to provide a place to display information about the law enforcement histories of the several Federal land management agencies. The Federal land management agencies known for having law enforcement functions and histories are: the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Park Police, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The details of Federal land management law enforcement histories are often omitted and missing from the general history narratives of the agencies because they are often judged to be somewhat insignificant.
There are those that think that Federal land management law enforcement is something that is new. Some members of the public have asked rangers, when did your agency begin enforcing the law? Or more common, when did you rangers start wearing guns? The correct answer to both of these questions is actually "a long time ago." For example, I once made an enforcement contact with a man who had built a fence and put up no trespassing signs on BLM land. He asked me when did the Government come up with this law? My answer was, "1885!" Perhaps the best response today's rangers could have to these sorts of questions is, "When did you start noticing that we were enforcing the law?"
Contrary to popular belief, most of the Federal land management law enforcement agencies have rather long lived histories. The Bureau of Land Management and its predecessor agency the General Land Office dates back for 200 years. The U.S. Park Police was also started very early in our Nation's history. This website will hopefully provide summary narratives of law enforcement history of each of the agencies. If the reader gets anything from the narratives of this website, it is hoped that they might learn that there is nothing new about Federal land management law enforcement. Law enforcement has been a foundational function of these agencies for quite sometime.
The author of this website has recently published a book titled Seldom Was Heard an Encouraging Word. It is the comprehensive history of Bureau of Land Management law enforcement. It includes the history of law enforcement in the Bureau of Land Management's predecessor agencies, the General Land Office and the Grazing Service. I have researched the book over a period of the last thirty years. The primary sources that I used in my study and research can be found under the Sources button. Further information about the book and how to obtain a copy can be found by using the History Book button or clicking on the title above.