I'm trying to find how much land the feds own in my county
April 7, 2006 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Is there any federal (US) website that details the amount of land owned by the government on a regional basis?

A friend insists over 12,000 square miles of San Bernardino County in California is owned by various federal agencies. I am skeptical of his numbers and he can't back them up. I'm of the opinion that federal land here is more likely in the 6-8,000 square mile range, but have been having a hard time tracking down real numbers (BLM lands have been the most difficult). Can anyone offer any suggestions on where to look?
posted by buggzzee23 to Law & Government (8 answers total)
How about here?
posted by Gator at 2:32 PM on April 7, 2006

From Gator's link: "The Federal Government owns nearly 650 million acres of land - almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States."

Holy crap. And that figure doesn't even count state and regional governments' landholdings.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:41 PM on April 7, 2006

Yeah but consider that the Alaska is the largest state and also the largest amount of government land. So the 30% figure doesn't necessarily distribute evenly across all states. Federal lands include military bases, BLM, National Forests, hell even federal office buildings.
posted by JJ86 at 2:45 PM on April 7, 2006

San Bernadino County is essentially all Mojave Desert. There's a huge Marine Corps base, a huge national forest, and a zillion square miles of desert. Who owns the desert? I don't know, but it's not private citizens.

I'd bet with your friend. :)
posted by jellicle at 2:56 PM on April 7, 2006

That's a great source, Gator, but I'm trying to find a source that lists acreage totals. And after looking at the maps, I'm beginning to think my friend's estimate of 12,000 square miles of federal land existing in San Bernardino County may not be far off.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:59 PM on April 7, 2006

Who owns the desert? I don't know, but it's not private citizens.

Less of it is in private hands now than in the past as the feds have been buying out/landswapping or forcing people off their land to expand the Mojave national Preserve. My wife and I own a few hundred acres next to Joshua Tree Nat'l Park and hope the feds don't decide to expand it in our lifetime. It's a great place to live and enjoy the nightscape.
posted by buggzzee23 at 3:10 PM on April 7, 2006

Here are just the largest areas (not including the BLM lands):
San Bernardino Nat'l Forest 614591 acres 960 sq miles
Mojave national preserve 1.6 million acres 2500 sq miles
29 Palms MCB 404480 acres 632 sq miles
Ft Irwin 640000 acres 1000 sq miles
Marine Corps Logistics Base 73272 acres 114 sq miles
Joshua Tree National Park 792000 acres 1237 sq miles
posted by buggzzee23 at 3:23 PM on April 7, 2006

As Gator pointed out, there are several federal agencies that lay claims to U.S. land. Of all of these, the Bureau of Land Management is the most in spirit of "public ownership" with few limitations. While e.g. NPS land is specially protected, BLM land is essentially free to use by all US citizens. One of the limitations is you can't stay put for longer than 14 days at a time - which precludes building a house on it - but otherwise most everything that doesn't violate federal laws and is not industrial activity is fair game. This is oft-used by CA, NV and AZ residents (among others) to throw big parties on said land, race cars, hike without any kinds of permits and so on.

Here is a map of BLM owned land. You will notice that the vast majority of Nevada and a decent chunk of California belongs to this class.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 5:21 PM on April 7, 2006

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