Public vs. Private Lands


Ring-necked Pheasant Cock Trying to Understand No Trespassing Sign

Ring-necked Pheasant Cock Trying to Understand No Trespassing Sign

One of the immediately noticeable differences between Alaska and the Lower 48 is the “No Trespassing” signs. In most of Alaska, you can drive miles and never see one; there are immense stretches of unposted lands, and tiny stretches with signs. In the Lower 48, you drive past miles and miles of posted property to find little parcels that aren’t. In Texas, outside of Big Bend National Park, it’s all barbed wire and “No Trespassing” signs. Even in Idaho, where 61.7% of the state is federal land, you see a discouraging number of “Keep Out” signs. Many grazing permit holders are allowed to exclude everyone else from the federal land. So maps like these are twice deceptive: they show federal surface and subsurface rights and they show lands under lease or permit, where access is not open to the public.

Map_of_all_U.S._Federal_Land

What’s the deal with the signs in the lower 48? Partly it seems to be a cultural thing. Alaska’s regional Native corporations and many village corporations, for example, don’t exclude anyone but hunters from their lands. Out here in America, on the other hand, signs like the one befuddling the pheasant are the rule, not the exception. To some extent it’s a consequence of the higher population density, but the population of southern Idaho is lower than roadside Alaska’s yet the “No Trespassing” signs are everywhere. Which is why WC thinks it may be a cultural issue.

There really are huge cultural differences. The whole “open range” thing, which will be the subject of a future blog post, is another example.

All of which is why WC is firmly opposed to further privatization of public lands. There’s too little available already; privatization will make it still worse. Set aside the hypocrisy, ignorance and delusions of the thugs at Malheur, the Three Percenters and their fellow clowns and criminals. The West is about open space. It needs to be kept that way. Not transformed into Texas.

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