Property Rights Foundation of America®

Speech from Proceedings of the Fourth Annual New York Conference
on Private Property Rights
(1999)

Federal Landownership and Control
Robert J. Smith
Senior Environmental Scholar, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Carol, and it is nice to be back. I was here, I guess, at Carol's first Property Rights Conference, and if you get invited back the second time I don't know if that means that you did a good job the first time or nobody understood what we were talking about the first time. But I hope it works out.

You folks here in New York, where there is very little federal land ownership, might be interested in a story. You may be good friends of Bruce Babbitt up here in New York since he is not doing much to control your land, but I just got back from California. I was out in a couple different areas in California in early March and somebody told me a story about Bruce Babbitt out there which I thought, since the federal government is now looking at taking over the Northern Forest up here, you might want to pay some attention to.

And it seems not too long ago Bruce Babbitt was traveling around through California out in the desert and, because this Administration likes to give attention to all minorities except those minorities who own private land, Bruce Babbitt was traveling with a Hindu gentleman and a Muslim gentleman. The three of them were in a car and they were riding through the desert in the middle of the night, and the car broke down out in the middle of nowhere, pitch black, and they got out and looked around and couldn't see any lights. There were some lightning flashes that looked like a bad storm was going to come, and Babbitt climbed up on top of the car. Way off in a distance he saw a light and said, well, it must be a farm house or something. Let's head that way.

So they got there about 2 o'clock in the morning and knocked on the door and knocked on the door and finally a light turned on and somebody came down, and it was a rancher and he said, "Yep?"

They told the story of how they were broken down and stranded and so on and he said, "Well, I'll be happy to put you folks up for the night but I got a problem. I only got two bedrooms and one of you will have to go sleep out in the barn."

Well the Hindu gentleman said, "Well you know I come from a very impoverished country and we don't have very nice homes, I'll be happy to sleep in the barn." So they settled on that and everybody went to bed.

Then about ten minutes later after they were all asleep all of a sudden there is a pounding on the front door and they all get up and go down to the front door and there is the Hindu gentleman. He goes, "You know, I am terribly sorry to tell you this but I just can't sleep out in that barn. You see there are some cows in that barn and in my religion you know cows are a sacred animal and it is not proper for a Hindu to sleep in the same room with the sacred cows."

So they thought for a minute and finally the Muslim said, "Well, you know, that is ridiculous. We don't have any sacred animals in my religion. I'll go out and sleep in the barn so everybody says fine and they all go to bed. Ten minutes later there is a pounding on the door again and they get up and go down and there is the Muslim and he said, "You know, I am really embarrassed about this waking you all up but I can't sleep out in that barn. You see there are some pigs out in that barn and pigs are an unclean animal in my religion and it is just not proper for a good Muslim to sleep in the same room with unclean animals."

And at that point Bruce Babbitt says, "Look, I have had enough of this. This is silly and we are not getting any sleep. I'm the Secretary of Interior. I am in charge of all the animals. I'll go out and sleep in the barn so we can get some sleep." And everyone says, "Thank goodness that settles it."

So they all go to bed and lo and behold about fifteen minutes later there is a pounding on the door and the rancher says, "Well now what's up this time?" And they go down and open the door and there are the pigs and the cows.

Anyhow, Mr. Babbitt is also in charge of the federal lands and that is what I'm supposed to be talking about. One of the interesting things I have first are just some factual figures about the American land. In case you didn't know, the American land is 2,271,343,000 acres, 2.2 billion acres of land in America. And until very recently the U.S. Government, the federal government, owned some 760,532,000 acres, about 33.5 percent of the American land. This is the famous line you always heard that the government owns one-third of America, one-third of the land. Additionally, state governments and local governments own a small but rapidly growing share of about 6 percent of the land, with the states owning some 97 million acres and local government about 39 million acres. And about another 2 percent is held for Native Americans as trust lands, which are collectively owned and not truly private lands in any sense. Thus, about 42 percent of all the land in America is owned by government.

Those figures changed relatively in the early 1980s with the passage of ANILCA [the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act] which parceled out the Alaskan land, settled all the claims up there that the natives had and the state of Alaska had, and split that land up between the federal government and the state government and the native government. Because Alaska is so huge in size and the federal government had initially owned 95 percent of all of Alaska, now that has dropped to 45 percent, but almost all the rest of that land went into state ownership. It went into state ownership and tribal trust lands but not into private ownership. So today government collective ownership of Alaska is still extremely high, 98.5 percent of Alaska with only about 1.5 percent in private hands. But with the ANILCA settlements, the federal ownership has dropped to about 29 percent of the entire United States from 33 percent, so right now it is around 650 million acres as opposed to 760 million acres. But all the rest of that land, of course, went into state, county, and local ownership and that has increased, and the government still owns over 42 percent of the American land.

As you probably know, most of the government-owned land, the federally owned government-owned land, in the United States is in the thirteen western states—those states west of the 100th meridian, which is considered the dividing line between East and West. The 100th meridian was sort of the rain line between the mid grass prairies and the short grass prairies and about 55 percent of all the land west of the 100th meridian in those 13 states is owned by the federal government. To give you some idea of some of the various states — Nevada is the number one state for percentage of land owned by the federal government with over 86 percent of the land, and that is just under federal government, it doesn't include the trust lands; Utah is 66 percent; Idaho is 64 percent; Oregon is 52 percent; Wyoming is 48; Arizona is 45; Alaska is 45; even California, over 44 percent is federally owned.

Now, east of the 100th meridian things are a little more hunky-dory for most folks. Iowa enjoys the pleasure of having only 0.19 percent, less than two tenths of a percent owned by the federal government. You folks in New York state are still pretty well off at 0.69 percent of New York right now owned by the federal government, but that is probably going to start increasing. Maine is about 0.94 percent, almost 1 percent; Vermont is 0.94 percent; New Hampshire is 12.8 percent.

Look at all these figures: 30 percent of the American land owned by the federal government and over 42 percent owned by government at all levels. This is a staggeringly high percentage of government ownership of land and resources for a free society supposedly based on the belief of the founding fathers that the cornerstone of all our freedom depends upon the widest possible distribution of land securely protected under a system of private ownership of property.

Now, even such disparate thinkers as Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton shared an agreement and a need for rapid devolution or privatization of the federal lands. Hamilton wanted to sell them off in order to pay off the national debt and Jefferson simply wanted to give the land away, homestead it to create a free people owning their own private property. But, unfortunately, somewhere along the line the American dream of a free society based on life, liberty, and property got aborted or usurped, and we are left with nearly a third of the nation owned by federal government and 42 percent owned by all government.

Now, in a most interesting observation, the economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, who, as most of you know, was certainly in no sense whatsoever known for his conservative beliefs wrote, "The public lands of the United States exceed the combined area of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, and Albania." He continued, "Where socialized ownership of land is concerned, only the USSR and China can claim company with the United States."

When you consider, also, that that was written in 1981 before the collapse of Communism and the end of most collective ownership of land in the USSR and China, this means that the United States is now almost certainly the most socialistic land system on the planet.

Additionally, that percentage of government-owned land, managed land and regulated land and encumbered land and partnership land is growing daily. And it is growing without any real government, media or public attention, concern, or debate about the consequences of this and the impact on the future of our nation as a free nation. When we spent over 50 years worrying about the road to socialism being paved with red bricks, it seemingly may have snuck in the back door but paved this time with green bricks.

Indeed, government owns so much land and is acquiring land so rapidly that no one really knows how much land the government owns at almost any level. Even the figures for federal ownership are not precise in any real sense. The GAO, Government Accounting Office, is supposed to be the source of all land statistics, but their statistics are notoriously flawed and unreliable as almost anybody who has tried to work with them knows.

I was recently trying to get some figures out of Nevada, a state that is over 90 percent owned by the government, to find out how much is owned by the private sector. I couldn't find anyone in the state of Nevada who had accurate figures. The person I found who had the closest figures was a woman who worked for the Bureau of Land Management office in Nevada and was in charge of the annual PILT payments that the federal government gives to those counties which have so little private land that the counties essentially can't operate unless the government gives them a payment in lieu of taxes. She took it upon herself to be a moral obligation that if she was going to spend tax payers' money she had to find reliable figures somewhere. She sort of knew she had worked out some basic data as to how much land the BLM owned, and she knew that something was wrong there.

This is because you begin to see across the country there are often land exchanges like the Forest Service will exchange some land with some BLM or they will get some forest area that will come from BLM, but the figures for the areas of land don't always change. A decade ago the National Park Service created a new National Park up in northeastern Nevada called the Great Basin National Park which was thousands of acres, and this woman discovered that the next year and the year after and every other year, when the BLM figures or when the GAO report on land ownership came out, they still listed the same numbers of acres for BLM and the same number of acres for the National Park Service that existed before this huge transfer went from the BLM to the Park Service to create Great Basin National Park. She discovered the same thing with the expansion of National Forests and realized that no one had a good data base.

Even as recently as 1995, after the Republicans had gained control of Congress, there was an effort on the part of a congressman in the House of Representatives. They requested a report, a study from the GAO, to get a collection of the basic land data in the U.S., how much land was owned by the federal government total, how much in Indian trust lands, how much land was owned by the state government, how much by county governments, and how much by local governments. But BLM could come up with no reliable figures at all except the plain simple figures, or GAO could not, except the plain simple figures that BLM reported every year which everybody knew. They said it was just impossible to gather that data.

Well, I don't think it is impossible, except that the GAO just don't want to do it for a Republican Congress. Perhaps if the Senate had asked for it, a couple of powerful senators, maybe we could have gotten it and maybe we can still get it in this Congress.

What they also asked for, and they got zero information, was they asked the GAO to try and get some baseline figures on how much additional land is owned by non-profit organizations, land trusts and nature organizations, and then to try and figure out how much of the remaining little bit of private land in America can't really be used by private landowners. How much land, for instance, the total number of acres, are encumbered by endangered species on the land or critical habitat for endangered species so the private landowners don't really own it, so effectively it is owned by government? How much private land has been declared jurisdictional wetlands? How much private land is included in the buffer zones along wild and scenic rivers or in coastal zone management area or other forms of buffer zones or along scenic highways and byways? GAO just said that data wasn't there, they couldn't get it. Obviously they didn't want to find it.

It is interesting even in counties. Many of the counties in the United States whose tax base depends on property taxes seem to have little if any idea as to how much land they, the counties themselves, own. As federal land ownership increases, as the feds step up and stop resource use on federal lands, stop allowing the timber harvest and so on, this raises some very serious questions for the future and for the economic status and stability of many of the counties across the United States. As you probably know, there have been a number of counties in the last decade or so that have actually had to declare bankruptcy because there is not enough private land to make the counties run.

As recently as 1980 in Salt Lake City, a lot of us had great hope. If you remember, about that time across the late 'seventies and so on there was a movement all across the West that was called the Sage Brush Rebellion. Everywhere people realized that there was too much federal ownership of land in the West and they wanted to do something about it. Now, that was a mixed movement because some of it, the father of the Sage Brush Rebellion, Nevada state Senator Dean Rhodes, basically wanted land taken out of federal ownership and transferred to state ownership. I mean, it still would have been owned by government and have all the problems of government ownership and government mismanagement. But, he thought, at least that was better than federal ownership because at the state level it would be more likely that the state would be able to control it and limit the power, the enormous power, staggering power, of the very powerful environmental groups in Washington, D.C. which have undue influence on the U.S. Congress. After that meeting in November 1980 in Salt Lake City where the Sage Brush Rebellion had gathered, they got a wire from Ronald Reagan who had just been elected which said, "Count me in. I'm a Sage Brush Rebel too." And there was a lot of hope then that we might see a renaissance of the American dream.

Over the 20 years before that, we had known that there has been this on-going growth of federal ownership and an attempt to have more federal ownership. In 1964, I believe it was when the Land and Water Conservation Fund had first been created with the purpose of acquiring private lands and turning these over to government ownership. In 1976 FLPMA, the Federal Land Policy Management Act, was passed. FLPMA officially handled the American policy of having homesteading of government land by private citizens, which is the only thing that is left that allows private citizens to homestead in a certain sense or privatize some public lands in which they have been able to stake a minerals claim.

Of course, as many of you may remember, in the Carter years there was a substantial push for land acquisition and a lot of land acquisition was going on. Then when Reagan came in with James Watts as Secretary of the Interior, they promised an end to that era. And they said the first obligation of government should be to take care of what it already owns.

But this trend still continued. They slowed down some stuff but as recently as 1988 and 1989 there was an effort by the Democrats in Congress and the environmentalists across the country to create a dedicated trust fund for federal land acquisition of private lands, the American Heritage Trust Act. I think Chuck Cushman is going to talk more on that and how that was fought, but there was a nationwide coordinated effort amongst almost all organizations in America—The Farm Bureau, the Cattlemen's Association, the Home Builders, the Realtors, Republican members of Congress, and on and on and on and they defeated that. In fact, Don Young of Alaska stood on the floor of the House and in his own committee room and said that the government acquisition of private lands is little more than Communism and Marxist economics. And Reagan also drew attention to the sorry condition of federal lands. Study after study has documented that the government lands were in extremely poor condition and that raised the whole question of, if so, why were we constantly trying to get more and more expansion of government ownership?

One of the things that came out that I will deal with a little bit here is that some of the poorest quality lands in the nation were those lands that were included in the National Park system. Those were the crown achievement of federal environmental policy in America. And particularly so with the terrible condition of the lands and the resources in Yellowstone National Park, which is supposedly the crown jewel of all the parks in the American National Park system. It was the world's first National Park, created in 1872. A lot of the information on this has been documented for people who want to know what the sorry condition is. Particularly, I recommend you to Alston Chase's magnificent book, Playing God in Yellowstone. There are a couple of others, including Prof. Tom Bonnicksen who has done some important work down at Texas A & M on the history and use of forest fires. There is a professor out at Utah State who has done a lot of work. Look at that. And the things they document at Yellowstone also hold true with other parks across the nation.

Among other things, perhaps the worse thing that has happened in Yellowstone is the massive overgrazing of all the grasslands and shrub lands and even the trees in Yellowstone by the uncontrolled and continuously multiplying herds of elk and buffalo that you may have seen, and part of that came about from the elimination of predators. The Park Service has set up a long policy of killing off all the wolves and all the mountain lions and anything that could possibly prey on the elk and buffalo and, of course, running the Indians out of the park, as well, when it was first created. There are so many elk and buffalo grazing in the park, particularly elk, that, for instance, in the valleys, in these little damp valleys, there are no willow trees left and, with the willows in the park gone, there are no beaver because that is what the beaver live on. Without beaver creating beaver dams, all these wet meadows, the beautiful meadows that have made the park so attractive, have all dried up as the water level has dropped, because there is nothing to hold the water back behind beaver dams.

One of the things that you will notice if you go through the northern part of Yellowstone Park is that almost all the trees that you see, and particularly when you see a few trees standing out somewhere, an isolated stand of trees, all these trees are high lined. On the trunk of the tree there will be no branches growing out as high up as an elk can stand on his hind legs and reach up to try and get food, because of the condition of the overgrazing of so many elk.

There has also been another thing you will notice; there has been no aspen regeneration in the park for decades. If any of you have seen the big stands of aspen in the West, you know that aspen, a normal stand of aspen trees, looks sort of like a bell curve, and there are a few big trees in the middle and it sends out little runners and shoots underground and small trees grow up around the outside and the stand keeps expanding. But in Yellowstone all you find is ancient aspen trees, the weirdest looking trees you have ever seen, like a 30-foot tall tree with a sheer white trunk, way up on the top a few branches and no new generation at all. That is because of mismanagement by the park in allowing so many grazing animals in there, so many elk and so many buffalo, that nothing can re-grow. Now, the government has said repeatedly that the reason for this is that it is too cold in the northern part of Yellowstone Park, but the odd thing about that is that you can go just across the northern border of Yellowstone Park, where you are still further north but under private ranch land where cattle are, and, even though the environmentalists always tell us that cattle or locusts are the worst things on the planet, there you can find aspen thickets so thick that you can't even look through them to look back at the boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

Another thing that happened there was that one of the professors found out that scattered all through Yellowstone National Park are areas of exclosures. They were put in up to 100 years ago, a little fenced-in area, so they can study vegetation. One researcher went back and found all these. He found some of the old photographs and so on and discovered where they were and went to look at them. He had the old photographs to show that there once was as much vegetation inside as there was outside the exclosures, but now in every one of those exclosures there will be aspen inside but nothing on the outside except a little bit of grass. So he started publishing that and the Park Service got so embarrassed about this that they have banned him from doing research in the park and they are taking down and eliminating those exclosures.

The same thing happened with grizzly bears. They decided that they needed to return to a policy of natural regulation. As you know, the grizzly bears will all concentrate on the dumps at Yellowstone, and, in fact, they used to have stands so people would watch the bears come and feed in the dumps. One of the reasons the bears were there was because the natural sources of food in the park had disappeared. The Park Service had built all these buildings and campgrounds down on the flat areas where the bears would dig up moles early in the spring or they had put in campgrounds and tent areas along the streams where the bears used to go to get trout when they would come up to spawn. They don't use any chemicals in the park, so the insects destroyed the whitebark pine trees that were a vital source of the pine nuts for the bears to eat to get fat and protein before they denned up in the fall. Many people said because of that they needed a lot of supplemental feeding.

They needed to keep the dumps open, but the government closed the dumps anyhow based on philosophy that they needed natural regulation. What this did, of course, you all heard of—the difficulty in the late 'seventies with all the problem bears. Once there was no food in the park, the bears started going all over the countryside and started having problems with people—raiding tents, getting into food. One of the things they were doing when they would find these bears was they would trap them and then tranquilize them, and one of the problems may have been that the tranquilizer of choice happened to be the same chemical that was called Angel Dust. Anybody remember the problems with Angel Dust? Angel Dust apparently worked okay with polar bears, but it seemed to make grizzly bears go berserk. You may remember Art Linkletter's son took Angel Dust and thought he was Superman and jumped off a building, and he turned out to be a normal human. Well, these bears then started doing all this bizarre behavior. I mean, they were actually hunting down people and killing people, I mean driving people out of their tents and sleeping bags and actually eating people. Behavior which had never before been seen in grizzly bears.

This was the kind of stuff that federal ownership was leading to. And, of course, you may remember the crowning example of federal ownership and this philosophy in Yellowstone was the 1988 fire that burned down half of the park and the great quote from the chief plant ecologist there, Despain, who was standing there as he saw the fire sweeping down a plot of trees he had been studying saying, "Burn, baby, burn." This was sort of the attitude.

They had another debate as to what was natural versus what was man-made. In one part of the southwest corner of the park, there was an area where there were some power lines. A bolt of lightning hit the power line. The power line fell down on the ground and started a fire. Because natural regulation was "good," they spent a couple of days debating whether this was a natural cause or a man-made cause and by the time they figured it out the fire had gotten out of control and didn't matter what it was.

They had the same thing repeatedly in the park. They had all kinds of problems with worrying about alien plants and weeds getting into the park and when they were fighting the fire, they were times when some of the fire fighters were trying to take the bulldozers off the road and go up to make a fire break and Park Service rangers said they would arrest them if they did that because if they took a bulldozer up there, they would scrape up bare soil and allow alien weed seeds to come in. Actually threatened to arrest them! Well, of course, after the fire when all of this land was burned off and all the soil washed away, a third of the park now is covered with alien weeds and what has blown in on the wind. These kinds of things went on over and over and over.

One of the things they did rather than improve park management policies and realize they had done something wrong, one of the things that the park manager at Yellowstone did was to ban the sale of Alston Chase's book in any of the book stores inside the park. It was prohibited to sell this. These are sort of independent contractors who run these little shops and it wasn't until the ACLU stepped in and announced that they were going to sue the Park if they didn't allow the sale of the book again that they allowed the book to be sold.

Another thing, the so-called "regeneration" of Yellowstone, was a great story everywhere. You had all these biologists who loved government ownership of land and kept saying how wonderful the fire was and that it regenerated Yellowstone even though it burned half of it down. There was a period there where pictures started appearing all over magazines, on cover shots on some of the magazines and inside on others, showing an area of dense wildflowers coming up after the fire. It could be a fireweed. Looking at those, I noticed that it seemed to be the same shot in every single magazine. Many of you may know Professor Richard Stroup of the Political Economy Research Center in Bozeman [Montana]. So the next year he and I went and drove the whole circle of the northern part of the park trying to find this area. Everywhere we went, all you saw was everything burned down, everything still black as the dickens. There might be a few little bits of grass or a flower alongside the road. Finally, however, as were leaving the park coming out by Tower Junction, to one side of the hill we saw all these pink fireweed on the steep side of the hill where apparently the fire had gone over high through the treetops and then hadn't charred and permanently altered this area. We said, that must be where the pictures were taken, and, lo and behold!

The Park Service is always more clever than anybody else. As soon as we drove up on top of the hill, there was a great big new parking lot that had just been carved out and a boardwalk trail and a big sign. It was called the Children's Fire Ecology Study Center, the one place in the park that apparently had not been damaged because the fire had not been that hot, and this was what everybody was using to claim how wonderful the management had been.

Well, I could go on and on with things that happened there that have happened elsewhere in other parks. The same sort of story transpired on overgrazing and so on in Rocky Mountain National Park. There is a book out by Carl Hess, Jr., called Rocky Times in Rocky Mountain National Park.

One of the things that happened in all this in a shift to get the bears out of the park and away from people. Alston Chase found some memos in Park Service files in which the Park Service said, well, what we need to do is protect the people from the bears and also to protect the park from the people. These are the lawyers, now, on the Park Service, meaning they were worried about lawsuits. One of the reasons why they changed their whole policy was because there had been a couple of lawsuits. For instance, one suit took place where a hiker, I believe it was in Glacier National Park, has been hit by lightning and so he sued the National Park Service for their negligence at his being hit by lightning. Then, down in the Everglades National Park there was a photographer who was down there with his camera wanting to photograph a barn owl. He had a tape recorder of a barn owl. He played the tape recorder to bring the owl closer and the owl came flying right in at him like that. He jumped out of the way, fell off the boardwalk and broke his leg, and so he sued the Park Service for that. And so this was an attempt to handle some of this.

One quick example of what has happened on National Wildlife Refuges, in the early 'seventies to show the concern the park managers had, the bureaucrats had, rather than somebody who owns it. Some of you may know the area just outside of Atlantic City, Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge. At a time in the early 'seventies when the wildlife refuges were having a reduction in their budget, and all the refuges were having trouble meeting all the important things they had to do, at the headquarters the Park Service was continuing to build new parking lots and new and fancier bathroom facilities so they could get more tourists and more visitor days to come, because a way you advance in the bureaucracy is by having more demand on your services. The more visitors come, whether they are good or not for the resource, the more likely that you are going to be pushed up the scale. And so here they were putting all this money into making more parking facilities and more bathrooms, and out on the sand spits where the listed rare and endangered species lived, each year the winter high tides would wash out the barbed wire fences and signs saying, "Keep out of the rare bird area." We were out there that same spring and here they were, four wheel drive, ORVs going through the area chasing the birds off, crushing the eggs, and little kids were gathering the bird's eggs and playing catch with them, dogs were running through them. This showed the priorities of somebody who was a 9-to-5 bureaucrat rather than someone who is a private landowner who lives on the land, is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and loves and cares for the land.

This is the kind of attitude, this is the kind of policy we have seen consistently across the American land with bureaucratic control rather than ownership control. One of the things that we have seen though our Center for Private Conservation is that for almost everything the government has done, the private sector is doing something somewhere and doing better, whether it is ownership of private parks or private wildlife refuges, areas like the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania or sea lion caves out in Oregon. These were started back in the days when the government was paying bounties for everyone to kill hawks or in Oregon paying bounties for everybody that killed seals and sea lions. Private individuals and private organizations who cared about them went in and saved areas for them and actually protected them from the bounty hunters, fighting against what the government was doing to destroy the environment.

Even on natural areas, natural landmarks, on comparing private ownership to public ownership there, we see that private owners are very often far better stewards than government.

Since next week is Thomas Jefferson's birthday, April 13, one thing I might conclude with is that one of the big success stories is Natural Bridge of Virginia. Many of you may have been to it. This magnificent arch is a couple hundred feet high above a small creek, and when Jefferson saw that in the early 1770s, he was so impressed about this that he said, this is one of the most magnificent creations of the Creator and must be saved and protected for all time so that it is never harmed and the public always has access to it. What he did, being a believer in private property, he went and purchased Natural Bridge in 1774 from King George III, and he owned that for 50 years and it is still owned privately today and it is still in magnificent condition, because you always have someone there who is a steward of it and knows that if he doesn't take care of it, then he is going to be out of business. This is the difference between a government bureaucrat and a private owner, a private steward—the whole concept you have of ownership and authority and responsibility.

So I would like to suggest that there is nothing in the record to show that there is any reason to want to have the government own still more land. We are simply going to have less freedom in the country as they move toward more government ownership, and we are going to have less well managed and less well cared for land and resources. I trust that, later on this afternoon, Chuck Cushman will show you some of the problems that we are headed to now as it appears that our Republican-controlled Congress is going to give up trying to protect private property and throw in the towel. Let's hope we can find a way to show the American public the advantages, and make sure they really understand the advantages, of private ownership, the connection to both a free and prosperous society as well as to a sound and healthy environment. Thank you.

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