Federal Lands in the US

Here is an odd little Fourth of July weekend data point. 

I didn’t realize how much of the West is essentially empty Federal Lands.

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Mapowns_the_west

via Strangemaps

Political maps of the USA seem skewed by the West, which is mostly Federal Land. Turn that into neither Red or Blue, and you get a country that has been fairly evenly divided.

That seems to be changing this year . . .

 

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  1. carwinrpc commented on Jul 5

    Not that you don’t already know this, but one of the ironies of the so-called “Sage-Brush Revolution” which Reagan supposedly led was that it was predicated on getting the Federal Government out of the lives of the rural folk in the mountain and transmountain west. The irony lies in the fact that virtually no one would be able to live there without the heroic exertions of the Federal Government which built the dams that made water available, owned the land that the ranchers leased for pennies a section, and virtually gave away the mineral rights to mining and petroleum companies.

    The graphic is just confirmation of what we should all have known for a long time.

    PS. Read Stegner’s “Big Rock Candy Mountain” for a sense of how people looked for a bonanza financed by the government. Great stuff.

  2. NC Jim commented on Jul 5

    I see my state is 11% Federally owned. I would hazzard an educated guess (SWAG) that this is accounted for by large military bases (Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejune) + the NC side of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

    I am not aware of any land in Federal hands that could be used more productively in private or state hands.

    Jim

  3. NC Jim commented on Jul 5

    I see my state is 11% Federally owned. I would hazzard an educated guess (SWAG) that this is accounted for by large military bases (Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejune) + the NC side of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

    I am not aware of any land in Federal hands that could be used more productively in private or state hands.

    Jim

  4. 12th percentile commented on Jul 5

    I say we sell California and Nevada and maybe throw in Arizona to sweeten the deal.

  5. paul commented on Jul 5

    Much of the federal land in the west is fenced and gated with locks. Who does that controls the land – I don’t care who owns it. The leases are less than a fraction of the taxes on the land. I often wonder, If I went into that land – just to see it, could I be arrested for Trespassing. Does someone who has leased Grazing rights – have the exclusive “everything rights” and ability to exclude citizens of the United States? If you dig back into ownership, I wouldn’t be surprised if much of the cattle grazing on Federal land is owned by Foreign
    non-resident aliens.

  6. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jul 5

    The rugged, self-reliant, range-riding types might be all that, but they’re non independent. Without the subsidies from the Federal Government (as indicated by carwinrpc, above), they’d be living in the burbs and commuting to work like the rest of us.

    Where can a rugged lookin’ fellow get in line for some of this welfare?

  7. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jul 5

    The rugged, self-reliant, range-riding types might be all that, but they’re non independent. Without the subsidies from the Federal Government (as indicated by carwinrpc, above), they’d be living in the burbs and commuting to work like the rest of us.

    Where can a rugged lookin’ fellow get in line for some of this welfare?

  8. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jul 5

    The rugged, self-reliant, range-riding types might be all that, but they’re non independent. Without the subsidies from the Federal Government (as indicated by carwinrpc, above), they’d be living in the burbs and commuting to work like the rest of us.

    Where can a rugged lookin’ fellow get in line for some of this welfare?

  9. Marcus Aurelius commented on Jul 5

    The rugged, self-reliant, range-riding types might be all that, but they’re non independent. Without the subsidies from the Federal Government (as indicated by carwinrpc, above), they’d be living in the burbs and commuting to work like the rest of us.

    Where can a rugged lookin’ fellow get in line for some of this welfare?

  10. wmac commented on Jul 5

    “I didn’t realize how much of the West is essentially empty Federal Lands”

    EMPTY? You could say that about the Sonoran Desert and you would still find a lot of folks to disagree with that statement.But the Pacific Northwest rain forest?

  11. Toady commented on Jul 5

    I wouldn’t necessarily say Federal lands are “empty land.” Unpopulated sure, but I wouldn’t call our National Parks and National Forests “empty.” FWIW, many Western States have State-owned forests/lands that are also a very large percentage of their states.

  12. mort_fin commented on Jul 5

    During the days of the “sagebrush rebellion” GAO released a report saying that the federal government undercharged farmers and ranchers for the use of Federal land. I was amazed (I’m much more cynical now) at the number of “free market economists” at western land grant universities who set out to prove that the federal government was just as efficient at pricing as the private sector would be, so that the prices weren’t too low, but just happened to be exactly the same prices that the private sector would have charged, so the government shouldn’t change a thing. I remember thinking to myself “if the government is so good at this, why don’t they just let the government own everything .”

  13. dukeb commented on Jul 5

    There isn’t an iota of American land that isn’t owned by the government. If you think you own any land and want to test that assertion, just stop paying your property rent (aka property taxes) and see who’s land it really is. In fact, you’ll find out not just who actually owns the land (at best you have a resellable lease), but also has ultimate rights to anything built on it.

    Sure, it’s a LOT better here than in most other countries. But I don’t think that’s usually the best measuring stick if our goal is the ideal.

  14. Mark E Hoffer commented on Jul 5

    Posted by: dukeb | Jul 5, 2008 11:00:03 PM

    here’s offering U$D 10000 to anyone that can substantively disprove your assertion

    maybe that’s enough to get someone to prove ‘alloidial title’ claims..

  15. (Q) commented on Jul 5

    I posted 3 diagrams on this exact subject on my blog earlier today. What are the odds?

  16. Vegas commented on Jul 5

    Now you know why dirt near Vegas was selling for close to a million an acre.

  17. Troy commented on Jul 6

    maybe that’s enough to get someone to prove ‘alloidial title’ claims

    “To prove a legal title to land one must first trace it back to the man who stole it” — David Lloyd George

  18. CJ commented on Jul 6

    It’s impossible to travel around the mountain states, or indeed any western state, and not notice the enormous amount of National Forest and BLM land. You’ve got to get out of New York more often.

  19. bluestatedon commented on Jul 6

    The so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” was sold by Republicans as a nothing more than the response to popular desire to get the mean old federal gubbermint off the backs of small ranchers and plain folks in the west so they could live their lives in the untrammelled manner of their forebears.

    In reality, the “Rebellion” was largely the creation of anti-government privateers sponsored by such right-wing organizations as the Cato Institute, who made no bones about their desire to turn ALL Federally-owned land—including eventually our National Parks—over to private interests on the basis of the highest bidder. Anybody who thinks this meant that small ranchers and yeoman farmers would end up owning much of anything is a fool — this was a ploy on behalf of large commerical and corporate interests purely for profit reasons. It was a “Rebellion” in name only.

    The ironic thing is that now, in localities in Colorado and Wyoming, local ranchers and other private property owners have become gradually incensed at how private companies have been able to ride roughshod over their own interests, having bought up drilling access rights to private property, with the property owners having no legal recourse. Drilling rigs have sprouted all across the the western slope in Colorado, and it is beginning to pit the oil workers—many of whom are out of state— and those benefitting from the activity against those locals whose livelihoods and personal interests are dependent on maintaining the natural local environment.

  20. VennData commented on Jul 6

    They should turn that grazin’ land over to the Starbucks corporation now, rather than later.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121494400432420449.html

    …hmmm, this one says Starbucks screwed up their real estate… maybe find a business that you can always count on then, like GM, or GE… not the doggone gubmint agin’

  21. uncool commented on Jul 6

    Jim, Re NC Fed lands. Bogue sound practice landing strip is an example of federal land that should be sold. No real reason for it being where it is.

  22. That Guy Drinks Beer commented on Jul 6

    “Where can a rugged lookin’ fellow get in line for some of this welfare?”

    Wall Street?

  23. Blissex commented on Jul 6

    «”Where can a rugged lookin’ fellow get in line for some of this welfare?”
    Wall Street?»

    As someone observed recently, the biggest “welfare queens” and “strapping young bucks” live in the rural counties of states that elect Republican senators and work in the corner offices of New York skyscrapers and Beltway military contractors.

    Lots of cadillacs and t-bone steaks are bought with federal money for subsidies and no-bid contracts to republican campaign donors.

    Never mind the horrors of all those trees on those federal lands polluting more than cars.

  24. frank shea commented on Jul 7

    I find the concept of “allodial title” very interesting and provocative.

    I lived in Taos NM for a brief time. The Taos Pueblo Native people have never left their land and make claim to allodial title.

    I once made the mistake of calling the Pueblo the ‘reservation.’ My friend sternly told me that the US Govt. never occupied the land and, so, couldn’t reserve it for them.

  25. Dominic commented on Jul 8

    Isn’t who owns the land rather irrelevant? Population density is probably a better metric, and just as striking. Compare North Dakota on the two maps, for instance.

    See e.g.
    http://www.censuscd.com/images/lf-map.gif

  26. Brad commented on Jul 9

    I have a multi-faceted idea. . .create a 51st state out of all the surplus federal land (between NV & CA?), call it “Brokebackia”, set up its state constitution to allow unlimited gay rights, including marrage, put all the nation’s nuclear waste and federal prisons there. Also, let Al Gore be its first governor with unlimited powers, and establish open borders for unlimited immigration. Give Brokebackia everything Soros/Clinton/Gore/Obama fans want — complete government control with no personal accountability, and no disposable income. Let’s see what happens? It’s been a while since someone’s tried a Nauvoo or a Walden Pond experiment. . .how about it?

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