The positive end to a potentially explosive Nevada cattle ranch standoff has brought about a renewed focus on federal power generally but also, specifically, the federal government’s land ownership. Uncle Sam’s vast holdings put the American Catholic Church and Ted Turner to shame.
As of 2012, according to the Congressional Research Service, “[t]he federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres, 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States…”
Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land: the Forest Service (USFS) in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), all in the Department of the Interior (DOI). Most of these lands are in the West and Alaska. In addition, the Department of Defense administers 19 million acres in military bases, training ranges, and more. Numerous other agencies administer the remaining federal acreage.
Those holdings include better than 3% of our own Garden State, Save Jerseyans (not to be confused/conflated with a reserve, like the Pine Barrens). I’m not even counting the properties controlled (or heavily regulated) by state, county and municipal governments at both ends of the Turnpike. Don’t get me started on the 50+ year old “Green Acres” program whereby Trenton forced you, me, and everyone else paying taxes in this state to buy 640,000 acres… for the government.
And given what we just saw out west, it’s worth contemplating how the militarization of America’s police agencies and government departments will impact our freedom… all to protect a desert tortoise? Don’t think it’s impossible for the feds/state to try to take your horse ranch to save a timber snake or your shore home to rescue the piping plover!