Ranch stand­off barely scratches the dusty sur­face

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

DEN­VER | Be­hind the hoopla sur­round­ing Ne­vada rancher Cliven Bundy’s stand­off with the Bu­reau of Land Man­age­ment is a grow­ing re­sent­ment over the fed­eral govern­ment’s sta­tus as the largest landowner in the West.

“This is so much big­ger than one rancher in Ne­vada,” Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, who heads the Amer­i­can Lands Coun­cil, said in an April 23 on­line de­bate spon­sored by The Salt Lake Tri­bune.

How much land does the fed­eral govern­ment own? A 2012 Con­gres­sional Re­search Sur­vey said the fed­eral govern­ment owns about 640 mil­lion acres, or 28 per­cent of the na­tion’s land mass. Roughly 90 per­cent of that prop­erty is in the West.

Put an­other way, one out of ev­ery two acres in the West is fed­er­ally owned. In Ne­vada, the fed­eral own­er­ship fig­ure is 81.1 per­cent; in Alaska, 61.8 per­cent; in Utah, 66.5 per­cent; in Ore­gon, 53 per­cent. In Con­necti­cut and Iowa, the fed­eral govern­ment owns 0.3 per­cent of the land.

“The fed­eral es­tate is larger than France, Ger­many, Poland, Italy, Spain and the United King­dom com­bined,” said Robert Gor­don, a se­nior ad­viser for the Her­itage Foun­da­tion. “It is too big and was never in­tended to be pre­served as one big park, but the left is stran­gling use of it and with it, ru­ral Amer­ica.”

Although Ne­vada has re­ceived most of the na­tional at­ten­tion since Mr. Bundy’s clash last month with BLM agents, the heav­i­est push to wrest con­trol of fed­eral lands is com­ing from Utah. In 2012, Gov. Gary Richard Her­bert,

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