In a nutshell...
BLM = manage lands set aside for public use
US Forest Service = preserve and protect lands for public enjoyment.
The Bureau of Land Management manages over 250 million acres of public lands. Their most common tasks are preventing fires, issuing personal use permits, restoring forest health, and forest product sales (timber). BLM land was send aside specifically for public use and is not as regulated or protected like land within national forests. Good example: Today, I saw the largest off road vehicle and ATV park I've ever seen. It's near the Virtue Mine off of Ruckles Creek Loop Road and was as far as the eye could see (over 5,000 acres of tracks, trails, jumps, you name it). That land is set aside simply to be enjoyed by off-roaders. That's what BLM does. They've got lands set aside for timber cutting, off road vehicle use, ranching, hunting, just about anything you can think of. Best part about BLM land is that mining is permitted even on lands where other activities are taking place. That means you can mine on the same land that is being harvested for timber.
The US Forest Service is an agency of the USDA. They manage about 190 million acres of land set aside within the National Forest System. The lands within National Forests can be used by the public, but the NFS has more restrictive rules based upon preservation with some public use. The National Forests are a good deal, IHMO. They're some of the most gorgeous lands in the country. I agree with setting them aside for preservation. Some of their rules are a little wacky, but they're all based around preservation. I'm glad they allow us to mine on them. There's some rich rivers within our National Forests.
There's not too much difference with regards to mining claims on BLM land or NFS land. You still have to abide by the federal mining laws and those laws passed by each state. However, BLM land normally has fewer restrictions. The gov't wants this land to be used to the max extent possible. To farmers, some of it is useless, but to miners, there's gold in there. Some of the land is useless for timber harvest but perfect for ranchers, oil and gas, or mining. Uncle Sam had the grand idea of letting the public use these lands. This puts money back into the economy. I know for a fact that obtaining surface and lode mining permits on BLM land is a helluva lot easier on BLM land than it is on NF land.
Hope this helps!
Edit: I like them both because there is gold on both!
Last edited by shack
on Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Fortune favors the brave