Proposed legislation was recently introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz which would eliminate law enforcement functions of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service on federal land, and instead give local law enforcement bodies the authority to enforce laws on the National Forests and on BLM lands. Rep. Chaffetz stated that the proposed legislation was in response to concerns expressed by local law enforcement and elected officials. The Congressman has concluded that federal agencies do not enjoy the same level of trust and respect as local law enforcement and the legislation was needed to help deescalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability. He also asserted that, by not having to deal with law enforcement issues or its costs, BLM and U.S. Forest Service will be able to focus on their core missions.
The proposed legislation, in addition to terminating the law enforcement authority of the Forest Service and BLM, would deputize local law enforcement to enforce laws on federal lands and establish a formula to reimburse local governments for their law enforcement on public lands based on the percentage of public land in each state block granted funding to local law enforcement.