Today, in the “land of the free,” four federal agencies control about 610 million acres or roughly 28 percent of all American land. That’s more than all the land in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico combined. State governments own more on top of this. These lands include state and national parks and forests, campgrounds, grasslands, seashores, and other areas known collectively as “public lands.”
Administering these lands costs taxpayers billions each year. But instead of life-enhancing benefits, we get underfunded, crumbling campgrounds and parks, many of which are being shut down. We get natural resources that are often harvested at a net loss or not at all. And we get vast tracts of other land barred from development that could otherwise help to grow communities, create jobs, boost economies, and improve people’s lives. In short, government agencies have turned a vast wealth of natural resources that could enrich our lives and our country into a collection jar that never stops going around.Today, in the “land of the free,” @forestservice @NatlParkService @USFWS @BLMNational control 28% of U.S. land. How has a vast wealth of resources that could enrich our lives become a collection jar that never stops going around? Click To Tweet
We’re told that these public lands are necessary to ensure that America’s resources are used wisely, the thought being that if left to their own devices, people will shortsightedly wreck these resources. The Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” encapsulates this view, warning us about people who “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Those same people also
took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Interestingly, these lyrics succinctly describe an incident from the 1850s involving a tree that was cut down on public domain land—an incident that lifelong National Park Service (NPS) employee William Everhart credits for giving the nascent American conservation movement “a sense of purpose.” . . .