Federal Land Imbalance
Does the West really belong to Western States?
Take a glance at a map of the United States that highlights federal land holdings. Recognition of the federal imbalance between the East and the West is instantaneous.
Federal land holdings account for less than 5% of land east of the Mississippi river compared to over 50% in the west.
After the close of the American Civil War a unique phenomenon began to take place - the federal government stopped disposing of federal lands held within their respective States. For years, States entering the Union agreed through their Enabling Acts that all unappropriated land would be ceded to the federal government with the understanding that those lands would eventually revert back to the States via privatization or title transfer.
As the United States entered into the twentieth century, citizens became accustomed to the availability of public land and its usefulness to society. There is no doubt that we must reserve choice plots of land for National Parks & Recreation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Monuments, and Military Installations in order to serve national interests. However, at what point should a line be drawn to ensure that the federal government hasn't over exercised too much authority within a State by maintaining a grip on lands that serve little to no national interest.
Should BLM lands that surround and "land lock" rural communities be maintained by federal authorities whose lack of continuity and and never ending permitting requirements stifle any hope for growth and development? Should high desert basins that are used primarily for grazing, mining, or the occasional hunter be subjugated to federal red tape when State control can just as easily ensure environmental health and public access? Can a State be considered sovereign if it has control of less than 50% of the landmass within its borders - land that cannot be taxed, royalties that cannot be collected, and fees that cannot be received?
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