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NEW STUDY: Examining the federal government’s control of Idaho’s public lands

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Federal land is defined as land that is owned by the United States federal government. The Property Clause in Article 4 Section 3 of the United States Constitution gives the federal government the right to manage and purchase land and regulate the activities that take place on that land.

The federal government owns approximately 640 million acres of federal land, which comprises about 28% of the 2.27 billion total acres of land in the United States.

The original, intended purpose of government-managed federal land is the “protection of forests and preservation of water flows while permitting some local timber use.”

Presently, all federal land is managed by five government agencies:

  • (1) The Bureau of Land Management

  • (2) The Forest Service

  • (3) The Fish and Wildlife Service

  • (4) The National Park Service

  • (5) The Department of Defense

The federal government’s land management has faced sometimes intense criticism from the general public. Some argue the federal management is ineffective, some say too much land is owned by the federal government, and some contend the land has economic benefits and should be returned to private citizens.

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