Is it your land or is it our land? The U.S. government owns almost half of all land west of the Mississippi. It’s a statistic that exposes a divide in America that goes way beyond land use. For many, it pits right-wing vigilantes against over-reaching government-loving socialists. But the stereotypes don’t help. What is “public land?” What is it for? Who should own it? And how might this status quo change under a new administration?


  • J.J. Goicoechea Fourth-generation rancher in Nevada; Eureka County Commissioner.
  • Patty Limerick Director of the Center of the American West (CU Boulder); historian.
  • Cody Stewart Director of Federal Affairs for Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
  • Jessica Wahl Government affairs manager, Outdoor Industry Association.

How Much Of Your State Is Federal Land?

The United States government owns over a quarter of all the land in the country. Most of the federal land is in the west, where the U.S. government owns nearly half of the land.

Here is a state-by-state breakdown of how much of each state the U.S. government owns*:

*This data was compiled from government sources by the Congressional Research Service and is up-to-date as of 2013. See page five of this document for full accounting of the data sources.

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