Why does the federal government own so much land in the West? Federal land has always been in the West.
It began because seven of the original 13 states had land claims extending from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. Between 1777 and 1779 those states ceded to the new federal government their claims to approximately 237 million acres.
The Continental Congress responded, passing a Resolution on Public Lands in 1780. Subsequent land ordinances in 1784, 1785 and 1787 followed. When the Constitution was signed in 1787 there were already 237 million acres of federal land.
The United States continued westward expansion with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Through subsequent purchases and treaties ultimately 1.4 billion acres were acquired.
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It doesn’t appear that the federal government took land from any state. Quite the opposite, the majority of new states were created from federal land.
Give the land back to the states. Only the 13 original states owned any land. And they conceived the concept of federal land for the benefit of all.
Today that federal land legacy is where you and I and 323 million Americans and countless international tourists marvel and enjoy this spectacular heritage.
Steve Spencer, Emmett