The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management will transfer to the Agriculture Department's Forest Service responsibility for underground minerals in 205 million acres of national forests if a planned, 34 million-acre land swap between the agencies is approved, BLM officials said.
At present, the service makes recommendations and the bureau issues leases in the national forests, and the two services divide supervision of operations.
The transfer of responsibility for issuing and supervising leases would "result in consolidating responsibilities for minerals within clearly defined geographic areas," the agencies said in a statement.
From 175 to 200 minerals technicians, scientists and specialists would transfer from the bureau to the Forest Service, if Congress approves legislation making the land-exchange possible.
Earlier this month, the agencies released for public comment state-by-state details of their plans, which mostly affect the 11 westernmost mainland states, though smaller exchanges are planned elsewhere.
Their estimate of eventual annual savings of $25 million to $35 million, made when the swap plan was announced in January, was narrowed to $27 million to $32 million.
However, the eventual number of jobs that could be eliminated through attrition was lowered from about 1,100 to between 700 and 800.
Of 71 cities and towns in which both agencies have offices, 22 would keep both if the transfer goes through. But none of the 71 communities would be left without an office of one or the other.
Land involved would still be managed according to legislation governing it, the agencies have said.