Who Owns All This Land In Colorado?

Moab, Utah

October 25, 2020

The federal government owned between 635 million and 640 million acres of land in 2012 (about 28 percent) of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States.

Around 52 percent of federally owned acres were in 12 Western states—including Alaska, 61 percent of which was federally owned.

In contrast, the federal government owned 4 percent of land in the other 38 states.

Federal land policy is designed to manage minerals, oil and gas resources, timber, wildlife and fish, and other natural resources found on federal land. Land management policies are highly debated for their economic, environmental and social impacts.

According to the Congressional Research Service, Colorado has a total atea of 66.48 million acres. Of that total, 36.23 percent, or 24.08 million acres, belongs to the federal government. From 1990 to 2010, the federal government increased its ownership of land in Colorado by 506,284 acres.

The following table lists federal land ownership in Colorado, and its neighbor, Utah. The chart also lists federal land ownership data for Virginia, as a comparison.

Colorado has 13 National Park Service units (including four national parks) six national monuments, 13 national forests, 43 wilderness areas, two national recreation areas, two national historic sites, four national historic trails and three national conservation areas. A study by the National Park Service found that 5.39 million visitors attended Colorado's national parks and monuments and generated $330.5 million in visitor spending in 2013.

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