Today, we take a look at the ongoing standoff in Oregon. Here, we ask: Just how much land does the U.S. government own and how effective are these nature conservation programs?
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Taking all 50 U.S. states into account, the federal government owns about 28 percent of all that land. Within some states, particularly large ones out West, that figure is higher. To manage all this, the government has four agencies each responsible for certain areas of land management. The U.S. Forest Service oversees the sustainable use of forests and grassland. The National Park Service manages some of the most beautiful places in the U.S., such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier National Park. The Fish and Wildlife Service enforces laws that protect fish, birds, bears, among countless other animal populations and natural habitats. The Bureau of Land Management more or less oversees everything else, including mining rights, some wildlife preservation, timber logging, etc.
Those who favor a smaller federal government may say this is all a perfect example of excessive government bureaucracy. Yet, there is plenty of research that all this land management work pays off in huge dividends-literally. The National Park Service detailed in its 2014 annual report that the service created some 277,000 jobs along with nearly $30 billion in revenue. All of this beautiful nature draws waves of visitors who require permits, lodging, restaurants, etc. These agencies have also helped restore endangered animal populations.
Be sure to check in with TestTube News to get some useful historical context behind the standoff situation in Oregon.
Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data
"The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States."
National Parks Service Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Justifications (National Parks Service)
"In 2016, the National Park Service will celebrate 100 years as steward of the Nation's most cherished natural and cultural resources. As the keeper of 401 park units, 23 national scenic and national historic trails, and 58 wild and scenic rivers, NPS is charged with preserving these lands and historic features that were designated by the Nation for their cultural and historic significance."