The federal government owns more than one quarter of the land in the nation, about 640 million acres. The holdings are concentrated in the West, where it owns about half of the 11 westernmost states.
The policy issues surrounding federal land are complex, but there is a good argument that much of the land would be better managed, and would generate more value for Americans, if it was transferred to state governments and the private sector. There is a movement in the West to gain more local control over federal lands because the economic and environmental decisions made in faraway Washington often do no reflect local needs. Randy O’Toole and I wrote about some of these issues here.