Managing Western Lands

Should the U.S. turn over federal lands to the states?


Armed protesters who occupied Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January focused national attention on local anger over federal management of public land in Western states. But for several years, a quieter rebellion has occurred in the West, where the federal government owns nearly half the land. In 2012, Utah enacted a law demanding that the federal government relinquish more than 31 million acres of public land in the state, and Arizona's governor vetoed a similar bill. Five Western states have enacted laws to study the issue. Proponents of land transfers say federal mismanagement of public lands contributes to catastrophic wildfires and costs logging, ranching and mining jobs. But opponents say courts settled the federal land ownership issue long ago and that the federal government ...

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