The largest land owner in the United States is the federal government. According to the Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data published by the Congressional Research Service on February 8, 2012; the federal government owns 635-640 million acres of land. That is 28% of the 2.27 billion acres land in the United State and nearly twice the size of the state of Alaska.
Most the land owned by the feds is in the western half of the US. The federal government owns:
- 81.1% of Nevada (56.9 million acres out of 70.2 million acres)
- 66.5% of Utah (35.0 million acres out of 52.7 million acres)
- 61.8% of Alaska (225.8 million acres out of 365.5 million acres)
- 61.7% of Idaho (32.6 million acres out of 52.9 million acres)
- 53.0% of Oregon (32.7 million acres out of 61.6 million acres)
- 48.2% of Wyoming (30.0 million acres out of 62.3 million acres)
- 47.7% of California (47.8 million acres out of 100.2 million acres)
- 42.3% of Arizona (30.7 million acres out of 72.7 million acres)
- 36.2% of Colorado (24.1 million acres out of 66.5 million acres)
- 28.9% of Montana (26.9 million acres out of 93.3 million acres)
- 28.5% of Washington (12.2 million acres out of 42.7 million acres)
87% of land owned by the federal government is in these 11 western states. If the Obama administration had its way, they would own even more of the land. If Al Gore had his way, the United Nations would own all of the US and tell each of us where and on how much land we could live.
Of the 640 million acres owned by the federal government, 80 million acres is managed by the National Park Service; 89 million acres is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service; 19 million acres is used the Defense Department; 193 million acres is managed by the Forest Service and a whopping 248 million acres is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.
If you subtracted the land managed by the National Park Service, Defense Department, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Service, that would leave 381 million acres that is supposedly managed by the BLM and other government entities. I’ve dealt with the BLM in the past and have seen a number of their environmental projects that were failures and only served to help ruin sections of land.
So my proposal would be for the US government to sell that remaining 381 million acres to private US citizens only. No foreign governments or businesses would be allowed to purchase the land. If they got a fair asking price, the government could make anywhere from $3.8 to $381 billion dollars.
I would also mandate that every penny made off the sale of the land would go directly to paying down some of our $17 trillion of debt. That may only be 2.2% of the total national debt, but every little bit helps.
From my experience, many private land owners are better caretakers of the land than the BLM and other government entities. In the past, I worked with ranchers who did more to balance the use of the land between livestock and wildlife than what the BLM dictated.
The other mandate I would have is that the EPA could not totally dictate land usage to the new land owners. They could work with them, but not be able to use the blackmail and extortion tactics that they’ve been using over the past few years.
If I was president, that’s what I’d do.