Protection of Government PropertyNatural
Federally owned property provides the public with a host of natural
resources, including timber, minerals, grazing lands and, in arid parts of
country, potable water. The wise management of these resources requires
Federal government carefully regulate the extent of their use. One form of
regulation consists of criminal penalties for the exploitation or misuse of
Currently there are several statutes which protect the natural
resources found on federal land. For example, 18 U.S.C. § 1851
unauthorized mining or removal of coal from lands owned by or reserved for
United States. Timber found on federal land, in turn, is protected by 18
§§ 1852-56. These sections prohibit the unlawful cutting,
removing or transporting of timber found on public lands. See 18
§ 1852 (removing or transporting); § 1853 (cutting or
prohibited is the processing of timber belonging to the United States for
purpose of making pitch or turpentine. See 18 U.S.C. § 1854.
sections further protect federal woodlands by prohibiting the willful
of unauthorized fires, 18 U.S.C. § 1855, and by penalizing those who
fires unattended or unextinguished, see 18 U.S.C. § 1856. It
be noted that section 1856, which deals with unattended fires, applies not
to fires on public lands but also to fires dangerously near public lands.
See United States v. Alford, 274 U.S. 264 (1927). Finally 16
U.S.C. §§ 604 and 605 authorize the Secretary of the Interior to
the cutting of timber on public land. Violation of these regulations is a
criminal offense, punishable by 6 months imprisonment and a $500 fine.
See 16 U.S.C. § 606.
Federally owned livestock grazing lands are another natural
which is protected both by regulation and by statute. Under 43 U.S.C.
the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to "make provision for the
protection, administration, regulation and improvement" of livestock grazing
areas. Violations of these regulations are punishable by a $500 fine. In
addition, 43 U.S.C. § 1061 prohibits unauthorized enclosure or
these public lands. See 43 U.S.C. § 1061. This provision is
complemented by 43 U.S.C. § 1063, which forbids obstruction of lawful
settlement or free transit through these lands. Violations of these
punishable by one year imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both. See 43
U.S.C. § 1064. Finally, 18 U.S.C. § 1857 proscribes the
fences erected by the United States on grazing lands or the unauthorized
of livestock onto these lands. Individuals who violate this section are
to one year imprisonment, a $500 fine, or both.
In arid lands, the Secretary of the Interior is empowered to
on federal property springs, streams and water holes. In order to make
water holes accessible to the public, the Secretary is also authorized to
signs and monuments designating their locations, see 43 U.S.C.
Willful or malicious injury to these signs or monuments and the willful or
malicious fouling of water holes violate 43 U.S.C. § 362 and are
by one year imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both.
[cited in USAM 9-66.100]