Quit worrying about “urban sprawl” (and start worrying about federal stewardship)

posted at 1:31 pm on June 23, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

One of the green movement’s great gripes with humanity is that people just take up too much darn room, and ergo put a lot of ecological stress on the land on which they live. The ever-sprouting world population, they argue, isn’t sustainable, as we’ll eventually run out of space to put people.

A new graphic from Environmental Trends, however, aptly demonstrates how unfounded these fears are:

When speaking to audiences on the subject of the environment, I’m often confronted with people who express concerns about “urban sprawl,” and “over-development.” And polls suggest such concerns are widespread: In a March 2011, Gallup poll, 57% of people worried a great deal/fair amount about “urban sprawl and loss of open space;” and 42% of people said they worried “not much/not at all” about the same issue.

With so many people worried, the pie chart, below, offers some interesting context. Note that only about 3 percent of the US is urbanized. 56 percent is forest and pasture. The second chart below, shows the trends in land use over time.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of wide open spaces in these here United States, and over time the area of special use areas — parks, conservation areas, etcetera — has only expanded. (Funnily enough, despite the USA’s growing population, agricultural land usage has declined over time — i.e., we’re able to produce higher yields off of less land. Yay, efficiency and innovation!)

So, here’s the real problem with all of those wide open spaces: The federal government owns and manages a full third of the United States’ surface area. The Department of Interior entities responsible for stewarding said land, including the NPS, the BLM, and the Forest Service, can all boast of cringe-worthy backlogs of deferred maintenance in the billions of dollars. Deferred maintenance usually amounts to some form of environmental degradation — either through a lack of adequate resources or flat-out stupid policies, the federal government just can’t keep up with all of the individual demands of America’s treasured natural assets.

While greenies are often convinced that big government is always the answer to ensuring environmental quality, the inefficiencies and poorly-conceived policies of government stewardship are too frequently the environment’s detractors.

Here’s just one epic-fail example: The feds often prohibit logging, grazing, and other thinning activities on its forest lands, ostensibly to protect the endangered spotted owl. The result is unhealthy forests with much higher tree and undergrowth densities than there should be, and in the already arid western states, this both puts a stress on the water supply and creates veritable tinderboxes just waiting to explode into catastrophic wildfires. (Meanwhile, the federal government is also busily engaged in subsidizing windmills, which kill birds — like spotted owls. …Anyone? Anyone?)


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Detroit…

OmahaConservative on June 23, 2012 at 1:33 PM

All you have to do is fly over the USA.

Schadenfreude on June 23, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Oh, you better believe it. Over 10 years ago, I ran across a number of websites put up by looney organizations that believe no property should beheld privately. Everything should be held by the feds.

And there is this stupid Yukon corridor or Y2Y project. Property they don’t own they will control through regulations.

The DOI wants money money money while thy waste so much of it.

Blake on June 23, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Agenda 21 alive and well.

Mr. Arrogant on June 23, 2012 at 1:37 PM

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I’ve roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

 

As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
And that sign said – No Tresspassing
But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,

Is this land really made for you and me?

FlatFoot on June 23, 2012 at 1:39 PM

This Erika gal is fast becoming a favorite. The leftist concern of urban sprawl has more to with keeping people concentrated in smaller areas than anything else. Think Warzaw ghettos.

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Did you folks know there is far more forestland in New England now than there was in John Adams’s time? Sure, the original virgin forest is gone–although given the burning activities of the pre-Columbian Americans those woods probably weren’t virgin either–but there is a lot of formerly cultivated land that has reverted to forest.

Why? Because once America started expanding west into the Great Plains, coupled with development of the railroads, it was no longer economically sensible to grow wheat in places like Massachusetts, so lots of farmland was abandoned.

Maybe 20 years ago there was an article in “Conservation Biology” about how one of the challenges in preserving the region’s endemic lagomorph–the New England cottontail–was that the populations were in decline not due to humans ALTERING the landscape, but due to humans NEGLECTING the landscape. Less plowed land means less open space, which means less habitat for the New England cottontail.

Okay, “lagomorph” is your word of the day.

radjah shelduck on June 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

FlatFoot on June 23, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Oddly enough, I think that Tom Joad would be a Republican these days.

GrrandpaCaligula on June 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

The federal government owns and manages a full third of the United States’ surface area

And through the EPA they control the other 2/3.

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Here’s just one epic-fail example: The feds often prohibit logging, grazing, and other thinning activities on its forest lands, ostensibly to protect the endangered spotted owl. The result is unhealthy forests with much higher tree and undergrowth densities than there should be,

Here is one more example, sure its on a personal note, but none the less relevant. The tree huggers as I like to refer to them, in 03 here in Ga. forbade the cutting of Federal lands which were having an outbreak of bark beetles to the white pine stands. I personally lost 226, 120 year old white pines, it should have been controlled and avoided. It wasn’t. Very costly to our State and to me personally. You can only imagine the mess it has created unless you live with the result. Yes the forest will recover and is already starting to green back up. However the stands of trees affected are simply wasted. Bark beetles kill trees by traveling around under the bark in the sap area around the circumference of the tree. It stops the flow of sap. The residue, i.e. bark beetle crap, has a terrible effect on the color of the otherwise beautiful color of the wood. Its called blueing. It turns the wood black, usually in streaks. This is not a good look. Between the glut of trees that were loss because of the mismanagement and the poor quality of lumber to be had from the trees. The trees were virtually worthless. Billions of board feet wasted. Had the initial infected areas been cut, this all may have been prevented, no guarantee mind you. But at least a chance. Trees saved 0. Habitat lost? You tell me.

Bmore on June 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

I’ve met people from Austin who claim it is a huge problem in Texas. They might well be on bath salts.

Then again Austin is Texas’s rather strange communist outpost.

CorporatePiggy on June 23, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Thomas Sowell has made the same point in his books and opinion pieces. Well worth the reading.

catsandbooks on June 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Do you know if it was left unregulated, developers and construction firms would pave most of those open spaces?

Zoning laws, development boards, etc are all governmental necessities. If the corrupt developers werent paying off the zoning boards in our area we’d be seeing less crappy looking, empty strip malls.

Development is fine if needed and tasefully done. Alas, that is not the case too many instances. Its a money grab by outside developers, who take the money, run and leave the headaches to the locals.

rickyricardo on June 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

rickyricardo on June 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Put the crack pipe down and back slowly away from it ricky…

SWalker on June 23, 2012 at 2:07 PM

When someone says Urban Sprawl what they’re really talking about is Population Control. Lefties love them some eugenics.

Vera on June 23, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Fed gov never has enough collateral for it’s foreign creditors.

Must have more natural resources set aside to continue to fund deficits.

Not complicated at all, just borrowing against assets.

PappyD61 on June 23, 2012 at 2:11 PM

This Erika gal is fast becoming a favorite. The leftist concern of urban sprawl has more to with keeping people concentrated in smaller areas than anything else.

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 1:47 PM

There’s that. But also when a Lefty goes on and on about preserving “open space” around urban & suburban areas where they live it also has to do with keeping other people out (read: poor and middle class folks) by artificially raising property values.

visions on June 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

The problem with “greenies” is that they never leave the pavement, get off their mountain bike trails, etc.

They have no idea how vast and untouched huge areas of this country are. There are hundreds of square miles which never see a human. I hunted in Idaho wilderness for twenty years and have hiked all over Donner summit for years and have only hiked a tiny amount of the total area. I have yet to see anyone off the trails or even parked by my truck unless I hike out of a park. They have no clue.

BullShooterAsInElk on June 23, 2012 at 2:18 PM

If your State wants lands held by the federal government back, just get the State Legislature to rescind permission for the federal government to hold it.

And if the government hasn’t asked the State for permission to hold such land on a parcel by parcel basis, then someone might want to get a lawsuit together to find out why the federal government is doing something that is unconstitutional.

ajacksonian on June 23, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Here’s just one epic-fail example: The feds often prohibit logging, grazing, and other thinning activities on its forest lands, ostensibly to protect the endangered spotted owl. The result is unhealthy forests with much higher tree and undergrowth densities than there should be, and in the already arid western states, this both puts a stress on the water supply and creates veritable tinderboxes just waiting to explode into catastrophic wildfires. (Meanwhile, the federal government is also busily engaged in subsidizing windmills, which kill birds — like spotted owls. …Anyone? Anyone?)

The deliberate ignorance of ecology that one sees in Libertarian circles is why despite being pretty much a pro-free enterprise fanatic I would never be a Libertarian. What is being called “catastrophic wildfires” are important to the ecology. Yellowstone had huge wildfires in 1988, and the anti-environmentalists were crowing with delight about ecologists being so destructive. But the impression of the biological community since then is that the wildfires were good things.

thuja on June 23, 2012 at 2:21 PM

I wonder how many acres of timber that has perished in Colorado was harvestable.

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 2:22 PM

One of the green movement’s great gripes with humanity is that people just take up too much darn room, and ergo put a lot of ecological stress on the land on which they live. The ever-sprouting world population, they argue, isn’t sustainable, as we’ll eventually run out of space to put people.

These are people who’ve never been outside the city limits of a large urban city. Maybe we should charter jets for these folks, tape their foreheads to a window and glue their eyes open, then fly them coast to coast a couple of times.

“Hey, what did you see during the flight?”

“Uh…a lot of nothing.”

BobMbx on June 23, 2012 at 2:22 PM

More strip malls with China-produced crap. Hooray!

HB3 on June 23, 2012 at 2:23 PM

crappy looking, empty strip malls.

How about crappy looking prosperous strip malls? Acceptable?

CorporatePiggy on June 23, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Texas land is almost entirely privately owned, and this is good, but as a result of fast growth, farms and ranches are being fragmented into ranchettes at a very high rate. A lot of rangeland and cropland has been taken out of production this way. I think it’s important to be able to grow food in your own region as a matter of security.

Also, our water comes from runoff from ag land, and the more this is paved over, the lower the quality and quantity of our water. As any Texan call tell you, the top three issues in our state are water, water, and water.

It takes a large area of crop area and watershed to support all those folks in the city, so all that “empty land” is serving a purpose it couldn’t serve if paved over. This is not even mentioning recreation, and there are lots of Republicans who like to have open space to hunt, fish, and camp. So yeah, we don’t need the feds taking over any more land they can’t even afford to care for, but we do need to value our open space, especially our privately owned open space.

juliesa on June 23, 2012 at 2:27 PM

More strip malls with China-produced crap. Hooray!

HB3 on June 23, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Currently there a plethora of crappy and tastefully done “empty” strip malls due to the current economy.

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Shades of 74….there were going to be piles of bodies on every acre! The horror!

Next up Global cooling, the that damn killler asteroid that comes back every 20 years to make us watch the news, then it will be moving Atlantic City to Missouri. The humanity!

Limerick on June 23, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Texas land is almost entirely privately owned, and this is good, but as a result of fast growth, farms and ranches are being fragmented into ranchettes at a very high rate. A lot of rangeland and cropland has been taken out of production this way. I think it’s important to be able to grow food in your own region as a matter of security.

Also, our water comes from runoff from ag land, and the more this is paved over, the lower the quality and quantity of our water. As any Texan call tell you, the top three issues in our state are water, water, and water.

It takes a large area of crop area and watershed to support all those folks in the city, so all that “empty land” is serving a purpose it couldn’t serve if paved over. This is not even mentioning recreation, and there are lots of Republicans who like to have open space to hunt, fish, and camp. So yeah, we don’t need the feds taking over any more land they can’t even afford to care for, but we do need to value our open space, especially our privately owned open space.

juliesa on June 23, 2012 at 2:27 PM

I lived for a while in Colorado and managed a large ranch. The owner had a favorite saying: “We drink over whiskey and fight over water.”

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Texas doesn’t need water, it needs the Federal nose out of it’s keester.

Limerick on June 23, 2012 at 2:37 PM

I wonder how many acres of timber that has perished in Colorado was harvestable.

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Old growth forest = ready to harvest.

If you want to prod the warmists, ask what better way is there to ‘sequester Carbon’ than to cut down trees and make them into things that we will preserve for hundreds of years?

How much CO2 is released by a forest fire?

slickwillie2001 on June 23, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Do you know if it was left unregulated, developers and construction firms would pave most of those open spaces?

rickyricardo on June 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Do you know that you’re an idiot?

Midas on June 23, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Here’s just one epic-fail example: The feds often prohibit logging, grazing, and other thinning activities on its forest lands, ostensibly to protect the endangered spotted owl. The result is unhealthy forests with much higher tree and undergrowth densities than there should be, and in the already arid western states, this both puts a stress on the water supply and creates veritable tinderboxes just waiting to explode into catastrophic wildfires….)

…only you! can prevent forest fires!

KOOLAID2 on June 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Texas doesn’t need water, it needs the Federal nose out of it’s keester.

Limerick on June 23, 2012 at 2:37 PM

It’s in desperate need of both.

juliesa on June 23, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Texas doesn’t need water, it needs the Federal nose out of it’s keester.

Limerick on June 23, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Everybody needs water

Rio Linda Refugee on June 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

There’s that. But also when a Lefty goes on and on about preserving “open space” around urban & suburban areas where they live it also has to do with keeping other people out (read: poor and middle class folks) by artificially raising property values.

visions on June 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Dr. Thomas Sowell’s point exactly. He frequently points to San Francisco, its high property values and lack of blacks living in the city as an example of this. He also points to several regulations controlling access to Yellowstone Park to only the people who can afford to follow the regulations, thus keeping out the hoi-poloi who might spoil the rich visitors’ experience of the park with their lower class selves.

catsandbooks on June 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

UN Agenda 21 – Coming to a Neighborhood near You,
The American Thinker

Most Americans are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program known as Agenda 21. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development created Agenda 21 as a sustainability agenda which is arguably an amalgamation of socialism and extreme environmentalism brushed with anti-American, anti-capitalist overtones.

Agenda 21 and the Threat in Your Backyard, The American Thinker

Ready to trade in your car for a bike, or maybe a subway instead? Interested in fewer choices for your home, paying more for housing, and being crammed into a denser neighborhood? You can have all this and more if radical environmentalists and “smart growth” advocates have their way and local, state, and the federal government impose the policies set forth in the United Nations’ Agenda 21.

Agenda 21: Conspiracy Theory or Threat, American Policy Center

petefrt on June 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM

OT – may this swine spontaneously combust.

First, the EU isn’t even capable of forming a federation, nor a constitution…

What he says is like “make NY the same as South Carolina, for the sake of multi-culti”. Go to Hell, you pig, with deep and sincere apologies to the good pigs.

Schadenfreude on June 23, 2012 at 2:49 PM

I don’t know why lefties oppose getting rid of the estate tax, since that would help keep open land open.

juliesa on June 23, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Bmore on June 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

That world class wild fire here in NE Arizona last year resulted from similar stubbornness by the forestry service. The fire originated in a designated wilderness area. The residents in the area offered to take their own equipment at their own cost and cut fire lines to stop the fire. The forestry service refused and the rest is history. I don’t understand their way of thinking. Yes some habitat would have been compromised to halt the fire but it pales in comparison to what actually was destroyed by the fire. Idiots all of them.

chemman on June 23, 2012 at 2:57 PM

rickyricardo on June 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Who defines tasteful? You? And just who are these out of control developers going to sell to? Do you think they make money on empty houses and commercial property? I doubt they are huge proponents of the theory “if you build it they will come”.

Cindy Munford on June 23, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Agenda 21: Conspiracy Theory or Threat, American Policy Center

petefrt on June 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM

We have been fighting it up here in NE Arizona.

chemman on June 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

thuja on June 23, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Yes, fire is necessary for the seeds of many plant species that are adapted to a forest environment. That said when forests are at their healthiest then a fire will burn through without damaging the trees while doing its duty to remove the covering from the seeds. The catastrophic fires in the last few years were not healthy for the forests. And yes the forests will eventually recover but in the mean time lots of habitat for animals has been lost.

chemman on June 23, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Environmentalism in one sentence: The cures are always worse than the “diseases”.

either orr on June 23, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Last year my family drove from North Texas to South Dakota. From northern Kansas to right around Mount Rushmore, there were times when we didn’t see traffic for hours. In Wyoming, even when we ended up on I-80, there really wasn’t that much traffic(compared to I-35, I-40, I-20, etc.). The only time I saw lots and lots of urban sprawl on the drive was from Denver to Colorado Springs, and then back in D/FW. I’ve heard people say that the entire population of Earth could fit in Texas, have a couple acres of their own, and still have room for more.

cebj25 on June 23, 2012 at 3:34 PM

One of my objections to large cities growing outward is the good farmland they often pave over. Yes, there’s lots of open space, but good arable land is harder to find. Here in the Tucson area, Sonoran desert for those not familiar with it, there are significant areas of open space that do not take arable land out of production. However, the idiots here have palpatations over the thought that a single cactus might get bulldozed. It’s absolutely maddening (would be hilarious if it weren’t so stupid) — it’s a freakin’ desert, there are thousands of square miles of this desert between here and Mexico and here and California. A few houses and roads cannot possibly cut into that amount of wilderness. But to these yahoos, every pack rat is a precious thing and not to be disturbed. Back to my original point, here, in the desert, is the one place that urban sprawl should be the least of anyone’s worries, but nope, the environmentalists always find something to prevent people from exercising freedom.

AZfederalist on June 23, 2012 at 3:50 PM

The catastrophic fires in the last few years were not healthy for the forests. And yes the forests will eventually recover but in the mean time lots of habitat for animals has been lost.

chemman on June 23, 2012 at 3:12 PM

… and all of that useable lumber was lost to use. So, just like the manic hoarders who accumulate possessions only to have the rot and waste away, the environmentalists use the Government to hoard resources, but instead of “preserving them for future generations” as their propaganda claims, the benefits that could have been derived are lost forever and future generations don’t get to enjoy them either.

AZfederalist on June 23, 2012 at 3:54 PM

radjah shelduck on June 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Interesting. Thanks for the insights.

KS Rex on June 23, 2012 at 3:56 PM

All you have to do is fly over the USA.
Schadenfreude on June 23, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Or drive through Kansas…

laurakbarr on June 23, 2012 at 4:01 PM

but instead of “preserving them for future generations” as their propaganda claims, the benefits that could have been derived are lost forever and future generations don’t get to enjoy them either.

AZfederalist on June 23, 2012 at 3:54 PM

They do not care about preserving anything for future generations only controlling the current generations.

Rio Linda Refugee on June 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM

We have been fighting it up here in NE Arizona.

chemman on June 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

And here in the mountain wilderness of western PA too. It’s insidious, creeping from the bottom up, as well as top down. Whenever someone says “sustainable”, run the other way.

petefrt on June 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM

If any of these environmental knuckleheads ever looked out the window of their Gulfstream or 737 any where in these U.S. other than parts of the right and left coasts they would realize how empty this country is.

AcidReflux on June 23, 2012 at 4:12 PM

They do not care about preserving anything for future generations only controlling the current generations.

Rio Linda Refugee on June 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Why, I’m absolutely shocked you would say that. Just look at all of their literature and listen to all of their interviews with MSM journalists. They always say that the draconian measures they support are for the benefit of future generations. You can’t mean to imply that they are lying about that future generations part and that they just want that draconian power in order to control people, can you? If that’s what they are doing, that would be just diabolical, and these are nice people, they tell us that themselves. They even smile when they are saying that.

/s

AZfederalist on June 23, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Thanks to Forest Circus “stewardship” we have lost close to 1 million acres of forest here in AZ in just one year.

hazchic on June 23, 2012 at 4:29 PM

More strip malls with China-produced crap. Hooray!

HB3 on June 23, 2012 at 2:23 PM

In the Portland, OR metro area, there are tons of aesthetically beautiful, well built, ecologically friendly, and very expensive office buildings and strip malls that are empty. Also, every square inch of Oregon is zoned. If one has a new or relatively new home inside the urban growth boundary, more than likely the lot is measured in square feet, and the cost is likely to resemble the cost of water front property in the south.

kakypat on June 23, 2012 at 4:32 PM

chemman on June 23, 2012 at 2:57 PM | Delete

Not to mention no use of slurry in that wilderness. If they would have dozed and dropped, Wallow Fire would have been over in a day and all that habitat would have been saved. I laughed each morning in the briefings when the Circus bioligists were only concerned about the wolves. They were tracking them daily with a helicopter while Escudilla burned.

hazchic on June 23, 2012 at 4:35 PM

UN Agenda 21 – Coming to a Neighborhood near You,
The American Thinker

Most Americans are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program known as Agenda 21. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development created Agenda 21 as a sustainability agenda which is arguably an amalgamation of socialism and extreme environmentalism brushed with anti-American, anti-capitalist overtones.

Agenda 21 and the Threat in Your Backyard, The American Thinker

Ready to trade in your car for a bike, or maybe a subway instead? Interested in fewer choices for your home, paying more for housing, and being crammed into a denser neighborhood? You can have all this and more if radical environmentalists and “smart growth” advocates have their way and local, state, and the federal government impose the policies set forth in the United Nations’ Agenda 21.

Agenda 21: Conspiracy Theory or Threat, American Policy Center

petefrt on June 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Bears repeating.

Excellent links. Thank you!

I already live in a state that loves it some Agenda 21. Others don’t, so your post is liable to open some eyes to this threat.

kakypat on June 23, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Quick math question: If all the people on earth were brought together physically and all stood in circles with 8 foot diameters (so no one would be touching anyone else, even at arm’s length)how much of the world would they take up?

Answer: About one fifth of the state of Florida.

Don’t believe me? Do the math.

Buford Gooch on June 23, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Quick math question: If all the people on earth were brought together physically and all stood in circles with 8 foot diameters (so no one would be touching anyone else, even at arm’s length)how much of the world would they take up?

Answer: About one fifth of the state of Florida.

Don’t believe me? Do the math.

Buford Gooch on June 23, 2012 at 4:44 PM

I remember hearing that standing sholder to shoulder all people in the would would fit inside the city limits of Ft. Lauderdale.

davidk on June 23, 2012 at 5:19 PM

The federal government owns and manages a full third of the United States’ surface area

And yet almost none of it complies with the Constitution! Here are all the Constitutional uses for land for the Federal Government…

Article I Section 8…

Clause 7: To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

Clause 17: 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, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

Funny… I don’t see any mention of federal parks, preserves, forests or any other use, except for the erection of “needful buildings”.

dominigan on June 23, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Most people don’t realize that most of the western states are owned by the Federal government.

Nevada 84.5%
Alaska 69.1%
Utah 57.4%
Oregon 53.1%
Idaho 50.2%
Arizona 48.1%
California 45.3%
Wyoming 42.3%
New Mexico 41.8%
Colorado 36.6%

In contract, very little of the eastern states is owned by the Feds, probably because they were settled during a time when the government was still limited in the true meaning of the Constitution.

It greatly limits what the people can do within their own state.

During the past 16 years, Colorado has been hit by a slew of monstrous fires that destroy 100s of thousands of acres of forest. Because of Federal restrictions on most, if not all, of these lands, none of it gets cleaned up, leaving even more fuel for the next fire.

We lost our family cabins in the Buffalo Creek Fire, May 19, 1996. It was the first of the monster fires, burning 12,000 acres in one day. It was the largest fire in CO history at the time but has been far exceeded since, including by the current High Park Fire.

Even though our area had been logged previously, early in the 20th century, because it’s national park land no one was allowed to recover the wood. Most of the trees were still usable wood on the inside. When we rebuilt, we used a number of them for deck posts and railings inside and out. It was days of hard labor planing away the charcoaled outside, but we have a beautiful result. Imagine if loggers and individuals had been able to get in there right away, before the trees rotted away, how many uses there would have been for the wood, even if just for firewood (which many people pay for). There would be less fuel for the next fire and fewer snags to fall on unsuspecting hikers.

We have 3 more fires that started today, Estes Park, Colorado Springs, and Mancos. How much of Colorado has to burn before the Feds take responsibility for true management of the land?

Of course the real answer is to give back ownership to the states and the people of the states. People tend to take better care of what is theirs.

Common Sense on June 23, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Erika,

Please follow up on this subject. The Feds, enviros and Big Agra have been assaulting land use and water rights in the West for decades. The issue is ignored except in regional and ranch journals. The defeat of these fascist tactics is essential for the freedom of all Americans.

Here are a few links:

Taking Liberty from Range Magazine

Stand-off in Nevada from the Las Vegas Review-Journal

And here are two articles revolving around the wicked Jon Marvel. He hates red meat and has decided to destroy the cattle business in America. He has the judges and the Feds on his side. He’s attacked one family after another for twenty years. That he hasn’t been shot in all that time proves how law abiding these western families are. They’re all armed and capable but for God knows what reason they keep foolishly putting faith in the justice of American law.

From Range Magazine

From the Univ. of Chicago

rcl on June 23, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Those who believe in the myth of urban sprawl do so because they have been told over and over that it is a problem. The solution would be to live in population clusters so we could ride bikes, public transportation and take high speed rail to other population clusters. The pine beetle has done severe damage out West as well. Millions of acres of otherwise useful timber has been wasted. Lawsuits brought by eco nuts to sympathetic judges have halted logging and the creation of jobs. Where’s that teary eyed Indian when we need one. Oh, right, running for the senate in Mass.

Kissmygrits on June 23, 2012 at 6:51 PM

All you have to do is fly over the USA.

Schadenfreude on June 23, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Yep…..all our friends from Europe (UK, FRance, etc) who visited us here were amazed if not quite shocked at fhe amount of wide open spaces seen clearly from the plane, but also driving around gives one a pretty good ode of how low the population density and țe ‘urban sprawl’ are in many areas in the US, with the exception maybe of the NE coast and sure, some of califormia….. though if you come think anout, N of Sacramento (which is not a conurbation by an stretch) there is absolutely not a single large urban area till probably Portland…and then the next one is Seattle…makes me smile when I think about what a crammed little island England is by comparison..

jimver on June 23, 2012 at 6:52 PM

I’ve got to caution my conservative friends against the false association of Agenda 21 with issues of known derisively as smart growth. I want nothing to do with Agenda 21 or the UN, but the type of development we have encouraged through policies that encourage sprawl over the last 50 years aren’t conservative and aren’t smart…there is nothing wrong is believing that we can cut back on government by developing in different ways…and here’s some painful truth for those who think the future of the US is more 1 acre subdivisions out as far as the eye can see…the marketplace has largely rejected that model.

There are two growing demographics in the country, retiring babyboomers and GenX and Y. The building industry surveys those groups on a regular basis and what they have found over the last several years is that majorities of both groups want to live in the same type of communities for different reasons…compact, walkable, mixed use areas that give them access to public transit. That is the market the banks and builders are going to focus on.

There will always be a market for those who want to live in semi rural places but I don’t want to pay taxes to expand the road network to provide access for those people…suburban development of that type is heavily subsidized and don’t kid yourselves, gas taxes only pay about 50% of the cost of building and maintaining roads.

Those that think that smart growth is some sort of liberal conspiracy to get everyone to live in ghetto’s where they can be controled better readjust their tin foil hats…there are plenty of conservatives who see the economic and social benefits of community and community is created through physical proximity.

ironmarshal on June 23, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Ironmarshal, you’re sadly mistaken. They’re building where they can get cheap land and selling for what they can get in the market. As mentioned above, many lots in urban/suburban Oregon are measured in sq feet (usually 5k to 7.5k). Now, I’d live in the neighborhood you describe if they weren’t insanely overpriced still, after the bubble. Here in Salem, Eugene and Portland during the bubble’s height, I saw houses on those small lots that went for 250k+ and that didn’t include AC (granite counters though). Utterly insane and overpriced. Southern and Central Oregon were worse though given they didn’t and still don’t have the industry to justify that expense.

I’d much prefer semi rural or suburban where I can have 1-5 acres to myself that doesn’t break the bank.

oryguncon on June 23, 2012 at 10:41 PM

More strip malls with China-produced crap. Hooray!

HB3 on June 23, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Currently there a plethora of crappy and tastefully done “empty” strip malls due to the current economy.

boardy9 on June 23, 2012 at 2:31 PM

I know. I had the misfortune to go to one of them in Texas a few years back, when meeting an Internet friend in real life.

The place was 3/4ths empty. Metal shutters and empty store windows all over. Lights were dimmed or off because almost nobody was there. What few businesses remained were ‘gansta’-themed clothing shops, cheap cellphones, and a couple selling bottom-end Chinese plasticrap goods. And don’t even get me started on the customers.

When it finally hit how bad things had gotten we made a beeline for the exit to go shopping elsewhere. I’ll never forget that place.

MelonCollie on June 23, 2012 at 11:22 PM

rickyricardo on June 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

ricky, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

———-

As to urban sprawl, it’s a concern because it’s what people experience. They aren’t driving hundreds of miles daily through the open spaces of America, they’re driving through … sprawl.

The problem is that greenies are right about packing too many folks into an allotted space. It puts strains on things, it can be irritating, and it gets noisy and stinky. The other problem is they are wrong in 1) their need to control everyone’s lives to solve the issue, and 2) the solutions they come up with.

One of the biggest problems is not requiring builders to pony up for infrastructure changes necessary to intelligently increase residential (or business) density in an area. Yes, zoning and development codes do have their uses. But, during the housing boom, all the local governments saw was increased property tax (and sales tax) revenues and all the developers saw was more profits from sales.

I live off a rural road, in one of numerous developments that used to be farmland. The older generation sold off that land as they could no longer work it, their kids having gone off to bigger and better things, and developers built on it as the area grew. The difficulty I face is that they didn’t improve the roads (or other infrastructure – we have broken telephone poles being held up by 2x4s nailed on either side, or by leaning another pole against it). No one required the developers to support the cost of their activities, and now we have a thousand families using a 1.9 lane road with no shoulder and deep ditches on either side. It takes forever to get out of the area in the morning (during the school year, anyway) because of the two drawbridges (one of which the Army Corps of Engineers won’t let us upgrade) which constrict traffic, and seven roads converging into one intersection. They finally required one developer (mainly because of the size of the proposed development) to improve one of the roads to a 3.8 lane outlet to the highway. (It is supposed to be 4-lane, but large pickups have difficulty staying between the lines as the road curves back and forth.)

The only way to use all that wonderful land out there, is to build communities on it. (Most people aren’t going to be content to live miles from everyone and everything else.) Of course, you have to have a reason to build a community, and putting in all the infrastructure of a city costs a lot of money when going from scratch. So, everyone complains about sprawl around the cities, but few folks want to go build a community elsewhere – because they will miss the city.

It’s a catch-22.

GWB on June 24, 2012 at 1:28 AM

Agenda 21 alive and well.

Mr. Arrogant on June 23, 2012 at 1:37 PM

.
Maurice Strong’s alive and well.

listens2glenn on June 24, 2012 at 2:04 AM

OTmay this swine spontaneously combust.

First, the EU isn’t even capable of forming a federation, nor a constitution…

Schadenfreude on June 23, 2012 at 2:49 PM

.

A constitution has already been drafted, and it wasn’t by the EU.

And there are MANY well organized persons working worldwide to assemble the “Federation”.
It doesn’t matter what the “EU is not capable of.”

listens2glenn on June 24, 2012 at 2:18 AM

Here’s another example of “Federal Stewardship” of our lands: its a practice the United States Forest Service call “road obliteration”. Google it and see. As you might suspect, the Forest Service takes existing road and trails and destroys them with heavy equipment so to completely eliminate the road bed by restoring natural contours and slopes.

Firstly, the whole practice of “road obliteration” is suspect. Why destroy existing roads? Secondly, the USFS has been doing this in overdrive and now wants to exempt the practice of from local and community input as well as normal environmental review. The hypocrisy here is overwhelming. We, as US citizens can not hike, ride your bike, or drive your vehicle on these roads, but the USFS can run large grading equipment, without review, through out the forest to permanently destroy the roads!

More info:

Read the proposed rule at Federal Registry

and

Here is little short report by the BRC about the USFS stewardship: Congressional Spotlight on USFS stewardship

JeffVader on June 24, 2012 at 1:11 PM