Myth vs Truth about transfer of federal lands

The transfer of public lands from federal to state management has been unnecessarily confusing and controversial to some, not because it’s a complicated issue, but because fans of federal control have purposefully mislead people about the details of public lands transfer proposals and their implications.

Myth #1: Public lands will be sold off to the highest bidder.

Fact: Federal public lands will become state public lands to be managed in accordance with plans formulated by individual states and localities. (Click here for more information)

Myth #2: National Parks and Tribal Lands will be subject to being sold for commercial development.

Fact: Tribal Lands, National Parks and Monuments, and Wilderness Areas will remain under federal jurisdiction and are excluded from public lands to be transferred. (Click here for more information)

Myth #3: States in the West can’t afford to manage their own public lands.

Fact: States which own and control public lands within their boundaries actually create wealth, whereas states under federal control lose revenue. Revenue from state trust lands are used to fund public education and other programs designed to benefit citizens. States under majority federal control struggle to fund public schools and are often required to make up for federal shortfalls, despite the fact the federal government takes the revenues from public lands in such states. (Read more here)


Myth #4: Sportsmen, hunters, anglers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts will lose access to public lands.

Fact: Public lands will remain public, and access will be improved under state management. Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have become increasingly aggressive with road and trail closures, as well as banning activities such as camping and rock climbing in certain areas. States and localities will be more sensitive to the economic and environmental benefits of improved access and well-tended public lands. The federal government, due to distance and bureaucratic complexities, is naturally less responsive to the needs of the people and the environment than local and state governments.

Myth #5: Transferring public lands to the states is unprecedented and frightening.

Fact: It's already been done before, numerous times. Transfers of federally controlled lands to “frontier” states occurred in the 1800’s, and continued throughout America until the early 20th Century. Western states successfully manage millions of acres of public lands that were transferred to them by the federal government. The Constitutional prerogative of the federal government to relinquish control over the public lands inside each state has not changed. (Learn more here)


It's unfortunate that misinformation about transfer of public lands efforts in the West is being spread by individuals and groups who purport to be sportsmen, hunters, anglers, and environmentalists. Some of those perpetuating myths are Green Decoys --front groups for left-leaning special interests which benefit from federal control. Others are simply unaware of the extent to which the federal government controls Western lands, or how critically important it is to the environment, social fabric,  and the economy for Western states to regain control over their lands. 

The failures of federal management in the West are increasingly apparent as politically-driven policies have manifested themselves in cataclysmic wildfires, restricted access, and troubling confrontations with local governments and citizens. The transfer of public lands to Western states to be managed and protected is a simple, legal, and environmentally beneficial answer to the problems caused by absentee landlords in Washington D.C. We encourage local and state officials throughout the country to boldly tell the truth about the transfer of public lands, and to support efforts by Western states to free the lands from the failures of federal control.

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  • Marjorie Haun
    commented 2016-04-23 17:19:48 -0600
    Mr. Trowbridge,

    You are, in fact correct. American Lands Council provides education for citizens and national and state leaders to understand the nature and history of the wrongs which you cite. We urge states to pursue all avenues; Legislation, Litigation, and Negotiation as well as educating everyone about the adverse economic and environmental impacts of federal control, and, as you mention, the threats to our freedom. Please learn more by visiting the link provided below, and join our effort to bring these matters to the attention of all state legislators, governors, and United States representatives from Western states.
  • Richard Dick Trowbridge
    commented 2016-04-23 12:53:07 -0600
    This article does not address the FACT That once the land became a state all land within it boarders became STATE LAND not federal. Land can only be transferred to the Federal Government by act of the State Legislatures. Article 1,sec 8 of the US Constitutions states what uses the Federal Government my ask the States for land. The article above assumes the land was owned by the Federal Government and now it is being benevolent in letting the states ask to control land within it boarders. “Educate yourselves it is your Freedoms that are at stake.”