This Land is... the Government's

Posted: Apr 03, 2012 12:01 AM

Most people understand that the federal government controls a lot of land, but few know just how vast the holdings really are.  The map above is courtesy of Investor's Business Daily.  It indicates the vast amounts of land, particularly in the natural resources rich western states, held by the federal government. 

According to the USDA, Economic Research Service, of the 2,264,000,000 acres that comprise the United States of America, the federal government owns 635,000,000 of them, or more than 28%.  In addition, state and local governments own 195,000,000 acres and another 56,000,000 acres is the sovereign territory of the various Indian Tribes. 

Thus, nearly 4 of every 10 acres of land in the U.S. – 39.13% - is owned by a government entity rather than private citizens; easily the largest asset controlled by the collectivist state. And, even the land that is privately held has volumes of regulations controlling what citizens can do on and with it. 

Nothing represents the American Dream more than ownership of a piece of land.  While significant areas of the country are legitimate public treasures, it seems yet another great paradox that in a nation of supposedly free people committed to private property rights and individual liberty, vast amount of this country is deeded to the government's Central Planners instead of to individual citizens. 

There may be a small bit of encouraging news, however.  As IBD explained in a companion article to the above map, there is a bit of a "sagebrush rebellion" going on in various western states that are pressing the federal government to hand over control of tens of millions of acres.  One clear outcome of this effort might be expanded energy production allowed by the states instead of the obstructionist policies imposed particularly by the Obama Department of Interior that led to an 11% decrease in oil production from federal lands in 2011.  State governments are at least one giant step closer to the people than Washington, DC.   And who knows, maybe one day as states struggle to balance budgets, they just might find it desirous to have tax revenue generating private land within their borders instead of revenue draining public lands.