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  • Shock Study: Feds Are LOSING Money Managing Public Lands

    The federal government loses 27 cents on average for every taxpayer dollar spent managing hundreds of millions of acres of public lands, according to a new study.

    States land trusts, on the other hand, actually earn a huge return managing public lands: about $14.51 on average for every dollar spent, according to a study by the free-market Property and Environment Research Center. In contrast, PERC found that federal lands only get a return of 73 cents on average for every dollar spent. The study concludes that transferring federal lands to the states would be a win for taxpayers.

    “By nearly all accounts, our federal lands are in trouble, both in terms of fiscal performance and environmental stewardship,” write PERC public lands experts Holly Fretwell and Shawn Regan. “On average, states generate more revenue per dollar spent than the federal government on a variety of land management activities, including timber, grazing, minerals, and recreation.”

    PERC’s study compared U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management stewardship to state land trusts in Montana, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona. What they found is that restrictive federal laws and poor incentives for bureaucrats costed taxpayers $2 billion from 2009 to 2013.

    In that time, BLM and the Forest Service spent $7.2 billion managing lands, but only earned about $5.3 billion in revenues — a net loss of nearly $2 billion. All the while, four western states spent just $16.5 million on management and earned $240 million in revenues.

    “The Forest Service generated just 10 cents in revenue for every dollar it spent from 2009 to 2013,” according to PERC’s study. “The Bureau of Land Management, however, earned a financial return of $3.11 for every dollar spent, primarily from mineral leases.”

    But even though the BLM is earning a return on every dollar spent due to mineral leases, it still pales in comparison to state land trusts. New Mexico generated $41 for every dollar spent on management, mainly due to mineral leases.

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