The “kook” idea that will save our Western states
And in Arizona, it has been a kook idea. In 2012, lawmakers referred a ballot proposition flatly asserting that the state had sovereignty over federal lands within our boundaries. Voters rejected it by a 2 to 1 margin.
But the idea of the federal government transferring the lands it is supposed to be managing for multiple purposes, excluding areas set aside solely for conservation, isn’t inherently kooky. The non-kooky case is made in a paper published this week by the American Legislative Exchange Council, “Federally Managed Lands in the West.”
The non-kook case begins with a recognition of where the decision will be made. States can’t legally take over federal land. The federal government would have to decide to transfer the land to the states.
That’s hardly unprecedented. In fact, it used to be standard procedure. When Illinois and Missouri were established as states, the federal government had ownership of over 90 percent of their land. Today, the federal government owns less than 5 percent.
The federal government only began retaining ownership of large swathes of land intended for multipurpose management when states in the West began to be formed.
The federal government has retained ownership of about half the land in the 12 Western states. It owns over 80 percent of Nevada and two-thirds of Utah. It owns 42 percent of Arizona.
Would the states do a better job of managing these lands? That depends on whether you think the lands should lay fallow or be put to productive use.
The federal government loses money on the public lands it manages. The states make money, and quite a bit of it.
Reach Robb at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 9/10/15