From 0.3 to 81.1: What percentage of each state is owned by the federal government?

Published: Friday, March 7 2014 6:29 a.m. MST

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Associated Press
Total state acreage: 70,264,320

Total federal land acreage: 56,961,778

Federal land percentage of state: 81.1%

Number of national parks: 3

Number of visitors to national parks (2012): 4,808,929

Economic benefits from national park tourism (2012): $194,100,000

Payments in Lieu of Taxes (2012): $23,917,845

Payments in Lieu of Taxes (2013): $23,331,913

>> The sun sets on Echo Bay at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Monday, June 10, 2013, near Overton, Nev.
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conservative scientist
Lindon, UT

There is information in the above report that is not accurate. The most obvious to me is that the number of "National Parks" in each state is incorrect (If one assumes that the same methodology for calculating Utah's National Parks in the article was applied to other states). Utah has 5 National Parks (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef) - not 13. We may have 8 other Federal areas such as National Monuments, but they are not National Parks. A very quick Google search indicates the other states have far fewer National Parks than stated in the article as well. Perhaps the category could be adjusted to state "National Parks, National Monuments, National recreation areas, National Forests, and other Federally controlled areas" or whatever the truth actually is. It may seem as though I'm nitpicking, but it makes me wonder if the other numbers and data presented in the article may be off by the same margin - if things may have been lumped together into a category and the data is inaccurate. It is simply sloppy data gathering and reporting. Make everything accurate and the reliability of the entire story is enhanced.

Jackie Hicken
Salt Lake City, UT

The information regarding the number of national parks in each state is taken directly from the National Park Service website. According to the National Park Service website's section, "Utah By The Numbers," Utah has "13 national parks."

Vanceone
Provo, UT

What percentage of each state is owned by the Federal Government? According to the liberals and Obama: Not enough, not until it's 100 % owned or controlled.

Because until you have to beg the EPA, the IRS, and every other government agency to build a shed and pay through the nose in fees, impact statements, taxes, more taxes, bribes to local democratic politicians to introduce a bill to allow you to build your shed, etc it's never enough.

royce
West Jordan, UT

Bret Webster's photo of Landscape Arch and the Milky Way is pretty awesome. I teach "NightScape" photo workshops in the national parks, and I know that taking a photo like this is quite difficult and requires a lot of skill and artistry. However, everyone needs to know that a shot from this angle (under the arch) is against park regulations. An area about 100 feet around the arch was roped off many years ago due to a large rock fall that happened in 1991. Photographing under the arch is considered dangerous by the park service and is against their regulations.

GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

The Tea Party takeover of state governments proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Federal Lands should NEVER be transferred over to State Control.

State Governments are too-easily purchased by well-heeled would-be plutocrats like the Koch brothers, who would knock down Delicate Arch and build a parking lot in its place if they thought they could make some money off of it.

andyjaggy
American Fork, UT

Not to mention that a certain professional photographer decided to light a bonfire under the arch to teach a night photography workshop and permanently scorched the arch in the process.

I love our national parks, I think all of our federal land is one of the best things we have going for us here in Utah. The opportunities it provides an average citizen like me is phenomenal.

I'm curious how the land grab would effect areas such as the Wellsville mountains. Earlier in the century residents of the area had severe problems with erosion and flooding due to overgrazing and timber harvesting. Eventually they got so fed up they pooled their money and purchased the lands, and then donated them to the forest service. How can Utah just take those lands now? Frankly Utah's federal lands never at any point belonged to Utah. I suggest if we want them Utah somehow finds the money to purchase them. That's the only logical course of action to me.

Utah might be able to do a better job managing it, but I doubt they can afford it, and frankly I don't trust all of the real estate developers in our legislature.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

So did I read this correctly that only Nevada has more Federal holding than Utah?

LDSareChristians
Anchorage, AK

Wow. I had always thought Alaska was in first place. This shows Alaska 3rd place after Nev and Utah, Perhaps from a different perspective Alaska is.
My alternate source shows 58.6% of Alaska is Federal own, 28.5% state owned, 12.5% Native corporations. .4% is left in Private hands.
I suspect Alaska is in 1st place for lowest percent in private hands.

Macfarren
Dallas, TX

DNews needs to change the way they publish these online lists. Firstly, having to click through an entire list is just simply unnecessary. Publish your entire lists on one page, each one linked elsewhere if desired. This methodology of multiple-page lists was old immediately after it began to be used a couple of years ago.

Secondly, this article is about percentages, and yet the list is in alphabetical order. Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone? Someone interested in this article is going to want to see the list in an ordered % format (either high to low, or low to high), not alphabetical, which makes no sense for a numeric-drive article.

LDSareChristians
Anchorage, AK

May I add, the Village of King Cove Alaska has been seeking permission from Federal government for over 20 years to put 11 miles of road through a wild life refuge. The state of AK has even offered to swap 56,393 acres of state land in exchange for the 1,806 acres to get this road put in.
King Cove needs this road to access an all weather airport in Cold bay. In the intervening 20 years several lives have been lost because king Cove peoples could not access the airport in inclement weather. Hence, the reason for the road, to save lives.

With ownership of 58% of AK, the current Government seeks/desires death over common sense.

Dragline
Orem, UT

@ Vanceone "bribes to local democratic politicians to introduce a bill to allow you to build your shed"
Being from Utah County, how many Democratic politicians do you run into needing a bribe?

JimInSLC
Salt Lake City, UT

States had better regain control of their lands. When China and other countries holding massive US debt want their money, you will see these federal lands being turned over for payment. The federal govt. EPA started under Nixon controls this land. Nixon also took the US off the gold standard. These "federal" lands are collateral to back the US dollar. The FED under the ongoing QE3 is still printing tens of billions of dollars monthly, continuing to slowly debase the currency.

So-CalAggie
Park City, Ut

Virtually all of the states with the highest Federal Government ownership were actually purchased by???? you guessed it, the Federal Government. This included most of Utah. If you just thought Brigham waltzed in here and said this is the place and voila, you are mistaken. Most of Utah was actually part of Spain and Mexico until we agreed to purchase the land (including most of California, Arizona, New Mexico) during the negotiations for the treaty of Hidalgo. Alaska was purchased from Russia. And now we want to cry because the State wants the land so they can lease it out to the highest bidder (aka the buddies of the politicians who line their coffers with campaign donations) for mineral extraction and all sorts of dubious industrial uses? Ha! That land is owned by the Citizens of this great Nation! Not the State. The State didn't buy it, WE did, the US citizens. Utah's contribution? Sure Brigham sent some soldiers to San Diego, big whoop. This country fought a war for those lands, it belongs to US, not the bro-in-law of some state lawmaker.

Steve G.
NORTH SALT LAKE, UT

Very well said So-Cal Aggie! The federal land we have is a great asset to Utah. The feds maintain it and the state of Utah and its businesses benefit from it. All you have to do is look at what happened when the Sen. Lee and company shut down the National Parks. It was devastating to Utah's economy until our governor got them opened back up. Utahns should be glad was have as much federal land as we do!

Shimlau
SAINT GEORGE, UT

No wonder all the easterners want to manage the western lands. they can't manage their own lands because they are private. makes you think about the desire of the states to control their own land.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

It's striking that California has far, far more federal land than Utah, in fact California's allocation of federal land is almost as big as Utah as a whole. Yet the Californians aren't wasting time on this dead-end topic. The California Legislature isn't playing basketball instead of listening to less fortunate constituents describe their healthcare access problems.

I have an idea: Since Utahns have such a keen interest in the deficit and national debt, perhaps the US could sell off all the federal lands in Utah to the Chinese government, to pay off as much of the national debt as possible, and Chinese corporations could move into Utah, (perhaps) supplying jobs for Utahns, and paying tax money the Legislature can use for whatever it is that they think is important.

The rest of the nation will appreciate Utah's sacrifice to pay down the national debt, Utah will have many new extractive businesses (even if foreign owned) and our conservative citizens and politicians can stop whining about what a raw deal they've gotten from the US government.

sjames
AMERICAN FORK, UT

@So-CalAggie
You have some valid points but you seem to be forgetting a piece of history in regards to land ownership between states and the feds. That is the Enabling Acts, or agreements between the states and the federal govt at the time of statehood.
While most of these contained contradicting language regarding which entity the land belonged to, most EA feature agreements as to how lands are appropriated. For example, by law, portions of profits from land that go to the Fed govt in Utah are supposed to be going into an education fund for the state govt.
If either party doesn't live up to it's end of the contract, technically it should be considered null & void.

county mom
Monroe, UT

Not one person alive purchased this land! Not one!

This land was bought by the blood and sweat and tears of the generations that came here long before we were even born. Those pioneers worked hard to make peace with the Native Americans and came here seeking refuge from those in the east who persecuted them!
It was paid for just like all the land in this entire country was paid for.
How dare anyone suggest that the land we all own is not ours.
The colonists did not pay for New York state, they should pay for it.
The federal government bought the entire western US so does that mean that it has not been paid for?
The problem is that federal land is not the governments, it is the peoples! The government owns nothing. We do so stop letting them run over us.
We the people have the right to our land!

county mom
Monroe, UT

The state does not own land either. What the state owns belongs to the people of Utah!

Get it straight, we own this land.

If we do not like what our government is doing we have the power to vote them out.
We the people, can protest, we can revolt, as a whole we are still far greater in numbers them the government. Maybe not for long with the current political climate, but we still can tell them what we think with our votes and our petitions. The government has no power that we have not given them. They can do nothing we do not allow them to do.
Our very silence is a sign of our approval. So if you don't like it speak up and vote!

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA

Technically, a national park is designated as such in an act of congress and administered by the US National Park Service. There are 59 national parks, including 5 in Utah. National parks are to preserve natural beauty for the enjoyment of visitors.

The US National Park Service administers over 400 "protected areas" (national parks, some of the national monuments, some of this national historic trails, and the like). National monuments are portions of federal land declared by the President as a national monument, usually for an archeological or natural beauty reason. The President directs the owning agency (e.g., National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service) to protect the monument. There is no requirement to provide for the enjoyment of visitors when it comes to national monuments.

The 13 so-called national parks in Utah are protected areas administered by the National Park Service and include national parks, national monuments, and national historic trails.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Most of Nevada was once a nuclear test site, that is the biggest reason the Feds own most of it.

jjtotten
Washington, UT

Let me understand this more clearly. The Feds want to take control of the lands in Utah so they can among other things control the mining or oil production or other development that might take place. Then in return they provide some funds from the Feds which was taken from the states via taxes. The states are paid with money that they took from the states in the form of Federal Taxes. What is paid to the states contains a large percentage of borrowed money which will eventually have to be paid back with interest paid by people who live in the states. It just does not make a lot of sense to me, why not just keep the lands in the states and let the states control them in the first place. If we just kept all the money that was going to the Feds for parks in the first place the states could do a great job of administering the "national" parks and would have control of the lands and in most cases do a better job of administering the parks.

pat1
Taylorsville, UT

I object to the title of this article which sets a bad tone. Sorry folks, I don't feel the federal government is the enemy. The "federal ownership" title is reminiscent to me of "Communist takeover" rhetoric during the Cold War and seems to promote fear rather than information.

There are some advantages to being part of a republic and having national parks/monuments is definitely one of them. Not only do they preserve interesting topographical features of this country but also our country's history. Thanks to President Teddy Roosevelt for promoting the national parks.

We spent 18 months in northern Virginia and are very thankful for all of the historical sites available in Virginia and Maryland,including the Civil War battlefields that are maintained by a national system.

Park rangers provide very illuminating presentations of not only geographical areas but historical information that enrich visitor's the of our country. Places like Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, Antietam,Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Bull Run Battlefields are worth visiting and learning about. And there are many other places in this country that are preserved in this same way. Thanks to all of those wonderful people in the national park system who help keep our history alive.

UtahBlueDevil
Durham, NC

I love the complaining here about eastern states. Lets completely ignore that these were settled land way before they were states, and way before they came together to form the US. My wife has family out here that you can track to the same towns clear back into the 1600's - way before we even knew there was a Utah. Much of this land has been in private hands going way back to before there was a USA.

Utah, the state I do come from, was largely empty when it petitioned to become a state. At time of that petitioning, the federal government already owned the land - it was not something the "state" owned. Those who lived here had no title to these lands. To say the lands should be returned is a complete and total misrepresentation of the history of the ownership of the lands that make up the current state of Utah.

So lets stop debating facts that we all know are not true... the whole "return" these lands chatter is based on a false narrative.

robtal
bordentown, NJ

Land belongs to the profiteers. The American Indians no longer hold any interest in much land and we know why. So all that remains is to take the land from the American people who paid to maintain it and keep these eco systems intact. Getting federal land into private hands is just a function of lawsuits, court de scions, and political energy. No property is anything other than the potential that profit can be made off of it. Federal lands are no different ,the courts and politicians will sell them as easily as we took the land from the Indians. Your heritage and birth rights have a monetary value and they will be taken.

silverbear
Goshen, UT

It is interesting that the vast amount of land owned by the government lies west of the Mississippi river. Looking at Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska,Nevada,California, New Mexico,Arizona, Oregon and Washington and its well over 80% of federal owned land. Tell the US Government to give us back our land! I Hope more Westerners agree.

Mrs T
Coalville, UT

As usual people have been indoctrinated that the federal government can do something right. Our state rights have been robbed by an ever expanding federal government they are still taking land from the states. Our national parks in many cases are embarrassing in the maintenance and upkeep any of you been to Washington D.C. That is our nations capitol and it is embarrassing in it's up keep of our monuments when they decide to let us visit them. Wake up and give us our land back.

john@sneekee
draper, UT

the national park service is the last entity that one should use as factual.

wrz
Phoenix, AZ

@10CC:
"I have an idea: Since Utahns have such a keen interest in the deficit and national debt, perhaps the US could sell off all the federal lands in Utah to the Chinese government..."

You're hitting on an interesting point...

Our national debt has grown to such proportions that China may well ask for/demand title to some of our national lands to continue loaning money to us... such as the Washington Monument in DC or Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. They may even ask for title to the White House or Capitol. And if the federal government sez 'no,' the Chinese may say 'well then, looks like that's the end of our funding ya'lls debt.'

Our economy then tanks!

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

No offense, silverbear, but part of the reason that so much land west of the Mississippi is dry and unproductive. Beautiful wilderness, yes, but lacking water compared to the nation's breadbasket. That's probably why Nevada leads the nation in federal lands. Not much out there.

K
Mchenry, IL

I would have loved to see the list without paging through 50 pages.

Reg. Joe
layton, UT

"No offense, silverbear, but part of the reason that so much land west of the Mississippi is dry and unproductive. Beautiful wilderness, yes, but lacking water compared to the nation's breadbasket. That's probably why Nevada leads the nation in federal lands. Not much out there."

"Unproductive","Not much out there"? How about one of the worlds largest gold mines, not to mention the silver. The western states contain: Shale Oil, Gold and Silver. This is the real reason for the Feds holdings.

MLRP
Heber City, UT

BLM and National Forest lands are not Federal Owned they are public lands owned by the public. Our state has wasted millions of our tax dollars in attempt to steal these land from us, the public. When the state does get land they sell to private interests. The so called "Sagebrush Rebellion" is a complete public rip-off. We all pay taxes on this land and we all own it. Not the federal government.

woolybruce
Idaho Falls, ID

What Federally owned land means to the common citizen is open access. It means having 60,000 acres dedicated to motorcycles, four wheelers and off road vehicles, in comparison to say like North Dakota which has little Federal lands and an entire 100 acres for such things. It means deciding Friday to leave for the weekend in BLM, rather than like Texas, which has vast open spaces and little Federal Lands. In Texas one much plan months in advance to get reservations and pay big bucks to use a four wheeler or motorcycle. Federally owned lands in Utah means that a citizen can through his camping equipment in the back of a 10 year old Honda or SUV and drive into the Mountains or into the Slickrock and set up a tent. Try that in Pennsylvania's open spaces that had little Federal Land and end up in jail for trespassing.

How interesting it is that the common citizen in Utah is driven to give away a huge benefits that enriches their life style. Willing to give away these beautiful resources to the highest bidder and deprive the common man of open spaces, or limit them to the parking lot of Walmart. Rather than having full access to a beautiful mountain meadow, or a stream cascading over a beautifully carven slick rock canyon.

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

Article 1 Section 8 Paragraph 17 of the US Constitution prohibits the federal government from owning any land in any state unless the state legislature specifically voted to sell the land to the feds.

The same paragraph also enumerates the purposes for which the feds can own land in a state. None of them include National Parks, Monuments, etc. Post Offices, Post Roads and military facilities are pretty much the only allowed uses for Federal ownership of land in states.

If you want to be free, read the constitution and only vote for men that support it.

K
Mchenry, IL

Silverbear I hope you are a Native American. If not, much food for thought.

worf
Mcallen, TX

The same feds who can't balance a checkbook to control our lands?

Healthy Skeptic
Saratoga Springs, UT

When the States created the Federal Government, they granted them a district of land not to exceed 10 miles square, and land necessary for military applications. These are the only "Federal Lands". Anything else is usurpation. Period.

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