Seldom Was Heard an Encouraging Word
Seldom Was Heard
an Encouraging Word
A History of Bureau of
Land Management Law Enforcement

by Dennis McLane
Released 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.


Many have 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 It is 545 pages of text and appendices. A comprehensive index is included.  Use the look inside feature on Amazon to view the table of contents and index.