Proponents of turning public lands over to the states are conveniently silent on how they would pay for the costs of managing federal public lands without raising taxes, selling them off, or poaching other important state accounts, like K-12 education or law enforcement.
Here are some resources about the costs of managing federal public lands, and what the costs of the state land seizure efforts might be:
- An economic report from Utah economists determined that the state would lose tens of millions of dollars if it were to manage our national public lands, except in a few cases that rely on highly improbable assumptions.
- A similar report in Idaho found that taking control of national public lands could cost the state $111 million per year.
- The U.S. Forest Service often spends more fighting wildfires in Western states than those states spend on their own law enforcement.
- A report from the Congressional Research Service found that the federal government spends $392 million every year managing public lands in Idaho.
- An independent economic study commissioned by the Idaho Conservation League found that implementation of Idaho’s efforts to “transfer” public lands would cost more than $2 billion over 20 years.
- If states were granted control of national public lands, 13 Western states would be saddled with between $9.6 and $21 billion in costs of cleaning up the abandoned mines that exist on public lands.
- A fiscal analysis from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources concluded that the costs of managing national public lands “are unknown and could be significant.” The study specifically points to cleanup liabilities associated with contaminated sites.
Public lands provide incredible economic, historic, and cultural benefits. Consider, for example:
- The outdoor recreation economy generates $646 billion every year.
- National public lands have been shown to create a competitive advantage for communities located near them. In fact, Western rural counties with more national public lands outperform their peers.
- Public lands managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior supported $360 billion in economic output in fiscal year 2014.
- National public lands are the location for tremendous historic and cultural resources.