Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced House Resolution 2167, the Acre In, Acre Out Act, to end the expansion of the federal government’s land ownership by requiring federal agencies to sell one acre to private owners, states, or localities for every acre a federal agency adds.
Griffith’s bill directs the heads of the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to divest one acre of public land, through a sale to private entities or state or local governments, for every acre the agencies acquire.
All sales would be divested at “fair market value,” with the condition the government will reduce the price of any parcel offered 10 percent for every month it goes unsold within the first six months of it being offered for sale. All proceeds from the sales will go toward reducing the federal deficit.
Nearly One-Third of Country
In an April 28 press release, issued the day the bill was introduced, Griffith said the federal government owns more land than the country’s founders ever intended.
“Currently, the federal government owns an estimated 28.2% of all the land in the nation,” said Griffith in the statement. “Our Founding Fathers never intended for the federal government to own nearly one-third of the country’s land. If the federal government needs to acquire additional land, they should identify pieces of land that can be sold to private owners, states, or localities.”
Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) cosponsored HR 2167, which was has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee, where, at press time, it awaits consideration.
Will Perry Pendley, president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), says limiting the federal government’s land ownership is a good idea.
“MSLF does not work on legislative proposals either in Congress or before state legislatures; however, it is beyond argument that, at nearly one-third of the country, most of that in western states, the federal government owns too much land,” Pendley said. “In some rural counties, the federal government owns as much as 90 percent of the land.
“Nonetheless, Congress continues to appropriate funds for the federal government to acquire even more land,” said Pendley. “That is wrong. Congress must take affirmative steps to right this ship.”
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.