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CRS – Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data

Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data, February 8, 2012

  • “The federal government owns roughly 635-640 million acres, 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four agencies administer 609 million acres of this land: the Forest Service (USFS) in the Department of Agriculture, and the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), all in the Department of the Interior (DOI). Most of these lands are in the West and Alaska. In addition, the Department of Defense administers 19 million acres in military bases, training ranges, and more. Numerous other agencies administer the remaining federal acreage. The lands administered by the four land agencies are managed for many purposes, primarily related to preservation, recreation, and development of natural resources. Yet each of these agencies has distinct responsibilities. The BLM manages 248 million acres and is responsible for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral resources. The BLM has a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate that supports a variety of uses and programs, including energy development, recreation, grazing, wild horses and burros, and conservation. The USFS manages 193 million acres also for multiple uses and sustained yields of various products and services, including timber harvesting, recreation, grazing, watershed protection, and fish and wildlife habitats. Most of the USFS lands are designated national forests. Wildfire protection is increasingly important for both agencies.”
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