The BLM Lost 20 Million Acres of Federal Public Land this Year

August 28, 2010

LARKSPUR, Ca. – The U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is one of the federal agencies responsible for managing federal public land held in trust for the American people.  Federally-owned and managed public land totals nearly 650 million surface acres, or about 30% of the total land area of the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) website

Other Department of Interior agencies that manage federal public land include the DOI’s U.S. National Park Service (approximately 84 million acres), Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife Service.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Defense including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also manage some federal land.

The BLM manages more federal public land than any other federal agency (although he U.S. Forest Service under the Department of Agriculture comes close with approximately 192 million acres under its management).  Just how much surface federal public land the BLM manages for the benefit of the American public depends on where you look and whom you ask:

If the June 2009 GAO report and current BLM “About Us” webpage are to be believed, the BLM has transferred, by way of sale, exchange or donation, 20 million (or so) acres of federal public surface land in the last twelve months.

For comparison purposes, consider this BLM table for the years 2004 and 2005, showing the net change to public land the BLM managed in those years–from 261,848,120 in year 2004 to 261,762,912 in year 2005–a decrease (or loss) of 85,208 surface acres in one year.  A mere drop in the bucket compared to last year’s decrease of 20 million surface acres.

How does the BLM account for the 20 million acre discrepancy between the GAO’s reported 265 million acres in June 2009 and the 245 million acres the BLM reports managing today?  The American public wants to know how in the space of 12 months an amount of federal public surface land the size of Maine was sold, transferred or given away by the BLM.

One Response to “The BLM Lost 20 Million Acres of Federal Public Land this Year”
  1. dAN says:

    Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act accounts for some of that I would imagine.

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