Because life is a series of edits

Who Owns the West?

In Places on June 27, 2008 at 11:05 am

Who Owns the West?

Thought this map (hat tip: Acton Institute) was interesting. I’m surprised both by how little land the government owns in South Dakota (just the best parts), as well as how much land the government owns in the West in general.

Also interesting is the small amount of government land in the Midwest and East compared to the West. What explains the difference? One word: gold.

  1. Also these words: Nobody else wants to own land in Nevada.

    Also, without putting to much brainpower toward thinking geometrically, I wonder if those red squares are really done to scale. Alaska, Oregon and Idaho in particular, it looks like the red takes up almost all of the state, but the numbers are closer to half.

  2. Also, the gov used to own lots of land elsewhere but slowly sold it off (mostly to railroads and pioneers) to finance its operations. The income tax was instituted just as these land sales began to taper off. And shortly after that many in the government decided that selling all the land wasn’t the best idea (I agree).

  3. Jeff, I had the same thought regarding the scale of the percentages, but even if they weren’t exactly representative, the numbers are still higher than I would have thought. Almost half of the state of California really surprised me, but then again, I’ve only been to the southern part where everyone and their dog lives. Somehow my travels have never taken me more upstate.

    I didn’t know that about the income tax, Trevor, but it makes sense (as far as income tax makes sense). And I’m glad Teddy Roosevelt had the vision to keep land untouched (his greatest legacy along with the Panama Canal) – I just wish I could feel better about his (and others’) motives in doing so. I know Roosevelt loved the land, but my cynical side wonders how much of it was put aside because of the possibility of finding gold in them thar hills? Anybody more of an expert on Roosevelt than I am? It wouldn’t take much.

  4. Sure, that makes sense.

    I think, though, that I’d rather the government got the gold (and didn’t tax us so much) than some private goldhunter keep it for himself.

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