We all knew that the U.S. federal government owns a lot of land, particularly out West. But did you know 84.9 percent of Nevada is under federal ownership?
That’s what shocking statistics from Ballotpedia show. And while Nevada has far and away the most federal land ownership by percentage, four other states are more than 50 percent owned by the federal government.
Utah is 64.9 percent owned by the federal government, while Idaho is 61.6 percent federally-owned. Alaska, which has the most land total owned by the federal government (223.8 million acres) comes in at 61.2 percent federally owned. Finally, Oregon tops out at 52.9 percent.
Perhaps what’s notable is that two of those states — Oregon and Nevada — have been the sites of dangerous showdowns over federal land ownership in recent years.
According to The New York Times, the federal government owns 47 percent of land west of the Mississippi River. That’s compared to 4 percent east of it.
The Heritage Foundation notes that uses of federal lands “include national parks, national forests, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, vast tracts of range and wasteland managed by the Bureau of Land Management, reservations held in trust for Native American tribes, military bases, and ordinary federal buildings and installations.”
However, the Bureau of Land Management’s stewardship of federal lands has come under question. Those who support the federal government owning wide swaths of the West have long argued that it would be too expensive for state governments to take over.
The Times reported that “studies have established that there would be substantial administrative costs for states if they took over … An economic study from Utah in 2012 found that taking over land management would cost the state government a substantial sum: $275 million a year.”
However, a 2015 study from the Property and Environment Research Center found that state governments generally tend to manage land better and more profitably. States generate $37.16 in revenue per acre compared to just $2.56 in expenses. Compare this with federal management, which has costs of $16.17 an acre and revenues of just $11.79.
And those who think that the feds do land management better are also in for a bit of a surprise. In an op-ed in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, columnist Sue Lani Madsen notes, for example, that the federal government’s exemption from weed control laws has helped create weed problems for owners of neighboring lands.
Also, she writes, optimal grazing schedules for conservation are often overlooked due to bureaucracy, and cumbersome government red tape makes adapting to crises difficult.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t deterred liberals who think that the federal government needs to grab even moreland. However, the statistics are clear, and they show it’s time to move in the opposite direction.
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H/T RedFlag News