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Public Lands and Political MeaningRanchers, the Government, and the Property between Them$
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Karen Merrill

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520228627

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520228627.001.0001

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The Taylor Grazing Act and the “Vast National Estate”

The Taylor Grazing Act and the “Vast National Estate”

(p.135) Chapter 5 The Taylor Grazing Act and the “Vast National Estate”
Public Lands and Political Meaning

Karen R. Merrill

University of California Press

This chapter considers the Taylor Grazing Act as a political instrument to adjudicate existing property relations and rights. It also investigates a range of angles on the act, beginning with the view from Washington at the time the bill was under consideration. It then describes how organized ranchers and the new grazing officials in the Department of the Interior understood the implications of the Taylor Grazing Act on ranchers' property interests. It explores how the rearrangement of property relations sparked an administrative battle in Washington indicative of the powerful attachments that public land agencies had to public property. When Harold Ickes spoke of the department's “custodianship of a vast national estate,” he also signaled an important shift in the relationship of the West to the federal government and to the rest of the country. Real property was at the center of the two departments' desires to consolidate their administrative control.

Keywords:   Taylor Grazing Act, national estate, property relations, property rights, Washington, Harold Ickes

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