Federal Land Ownership is money down the crapper

December 2, 2015

U.S. Government Manages To Make Federal Land A Money Loser

As found on Western Journalism

Milton Friedman was right.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once quipped that, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years, there’d be a shortage of sand.”

It turns out Friedman was not far from the truth. A new study by the Property and Environment Research Center found the federal government earned just 73 cents for every dollar of federal land it manages. In contrast, lands managed by four western states’ land trusts–Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona–earned an impressive $14.51 for every dollar spent.

The study notes that half of the western United States is owned by the federal government. The New York Times created a map and bar chart illustrating just how extensive the federal holdings are in the western states. Uncle Sam holds the title deed to a whopping 84 percent of the state of Nevada, and coming in second is Alaska at just shy of 70 percent. Ten states have over a third of their land controlled by the federal government. The red in the map below indicates land held by the federal government.

New York Times

The PERC study notes, “Managing these lands should provide a rich source of revenues to benefit the public, but it is instead coming at a high cost to taxpayers.” The organization concludes the best course of action for the taxpayers would be for the federal government to transfer more land to the states.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement among western states to effectuate a transfer of more lands, which likely could only be achieved through congressional action.

The U.S. Senate passed an amendment in March supporting the idea of transferring, selling, or trading federal lands to the states. The vote was purely symbolic, since no specific lands were listed in the measure, but did signal an interest in addressing the issue. Any actual transfer of land would have to pass the Senate and the House and be signed into law by the president.


Reposted by  12/2/15 

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