On Feb. 26, 1919, Grand Canyon National Park was created. Ten years later, Grand Teton Park was also created.
The United States has 58 National Parks. Many of them are spectacularly beautiful. One might ask, however, how the government ends up owning land.
According to Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution (the Property Clause), “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States …”
The Federal government is by far the largest landowner in the United States. While some of that land is set aside for parks and to preserve beautiful spaces, much of it is just ordinary land. In the western part of the country, much of the land is managed so that it can be used for commercial purposes. This sometimes leads to disputes over how best to do so. To better understand one aspect of this, watch the following video:
- Who do you think best understands the problem of managing shared resources? “Disinterested” experts in Washington? Or those closer to the problem, who will benefit or be harmed by the decisions?
- Much of the federal land in the West is in low-density areas. Do you think the same environmental concerns apply in areas where there are only a few people as in densely populated areas?
- When you see stories about people protesting Federal management in the news, do you think of them as kooks? Or heroes? Why?
16, Feb. 2018, Grand Canyon [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from <www.canyontours.com>.