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Federally owned land in US

Federal Property

“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dockyards, and other needful Buildings;”

Article One, Section 8, United States Constitution

Once again, the Constitution is written so clearly that it takes a liar to say that it authorizes the federal government to take and/or manage property within the United States for reasons other than “Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dockyards, and other needful Buildings”.  Of course, “other needful Buildings” is not specific.  However, any sane person will understand that the Constitution is talking about either military uses, e.g., bases, or the buildings necessary to fulfill the other federal duties, e.g., post offices.

Neither the United State Constitution nor The Federalist Papers mention national parks, national monuments, Bureau of Land Management, national forests, "protected land" or national land regulations.  However, we can infer from the Papers and the ratification debate that the States would not have ratified the Constitution if it gave the federal government the power to come into a State and take control of land.

“The size of this federal district is limited.  The State ceding the land for this use must consent.  The State will make a compact with the federal government, assuring the rights of the citizens of the district.  The inhabitants will have enough inducements to become willing parties to the cession.  An elected municipal legislature will exercise authority over them.  The legislature of the State and the people who live in the ceded part will agree to the cession and ratify the Constitution.  Therefore, this seems to cover every objection.

“The federal government must have authority over forts, military depots, arsenals, dockyards, etc.  Public money will be spent on such places.  The property and equipment stored there should not be under State authority.  These are important to the security of the entire Union and shouldn’t depend on one State.  However, each State where they are located must agree.”  Federalist Paper # 43 [paragraphs 5-6]

Except for the small amount of land listed in the Constitution, it is clear that the federal government is not supposed to own property within the United States.  The Constitution cannot be faulted for the federal land grab that has been detrimental to the economy and well-being of the States.  The States have allowed this invasion of unconstitutional federal power.

To further highlight how out of kilter the federal government’s role has become, it is doing a better job keeping United States citizens off federally owned land than protecting our borders from illegal entry. 

I live in Oregon.  The federal government bribed Oregon with “federal timber funds” to not cut down trees on federally owned land that, of course, pays no property taxes.  The consequences of this policy has had many negative ramifications.  Since the federally owned forests are not managed, forest fires have been devastating.  Now, the federal timber funds are running out.  Sheriff offices and jails are closing because they were funded with federal timber money.  And paved highways are reverting back to gravel roads because there are no funds to fix them.

The only solution is for the States to use their Constitutional power to reclaim their land.  Oregon could cut timber, which would mean more jobs and more money for county budgets.  Alaska could drill for oil, with the same results.  The economic benefit of States reclaiming their land is enormous, not just for the States but for the citizens within each State.   



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