The Land Lord Outdoorsman

Bruce Babbitt aims to protect 500 million federal acres that have long been exploited for commercial purposes

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt scans his vast office, then gazes down at the blue Republican carpet. He intends to tear the rug out, for it conceals a fine walnut floor installed during New Deal days by his conservationist hero, Harold Ickes. Not even the floor covering is beyond the scrutiny of Babbitt as he carries out vast changes in the Interior Department and in the government's philosophy toward its public lands. Where conservatives James Watt and Manuel Lujan once presided, Babbitt now speaks as if he were in a vanguard of liberators. "There has been an ideological war going on for...

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