Special Report

How Much Land the Government Owns in Every State and What It's Used For

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45. Nebraska
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 1.1%
> Federal land in state: 546,852 acres (15th least)
> Agency owning most land: Forest Service (351,205 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 1.7% (25th lowest)

The federal government owns just over half a million acres in Nebraska, or about 1.1% of the state’s total land area. Over half of that land is under the purview of the U.S. Forest Service. Land managed by the USFS includes the Oglala National Grassland, Soldier Creek Wilderness, and Nebraska National Forest in the northwest corner of the state, as well as the Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest in the north central part of the state.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also manages a substantial 174,401 acres in Nebraska, and the Department of Defense owns about 10,000 acres in the state.

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44. Illinois
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 1.2%
> Federal land in state: 423,782 acres (13th least)
> Agency owning most land: Forest Service (304,538 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 1.3% (12th lowest)

The U.S Forest Service controls over 300,000 of the nearly 424,000 acres of federal-managed land in Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest in the southern part of the state accounts for much of that land. The Fish and Wildlife Service is the second largest federal landholder in the state, with 90,000 acres, followed by the Department of Defense with nearly 30,000 acres.

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43. Massachusetts
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 1.2%
> Federal land in state: 62,680 acres (4th least)
> Agency owning most land: National Park Service (33,336 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 1.2% (11th lowest)

Massachusetts is one of several Northeastern states where the federal government has a relatively small footprint. Federal departments and agencies control 62,680 acres in the state, or just 1.2% of the total land area.

Over half of all federal land in the state is owned by the National Park Service. Though there are no national parks in Massachusetts, there are several historical sites and parks managed by the NPS, in addition to the Cape Cod National Seashore and a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

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42. Ohio
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 1.2%
> Federal land in state: 305,502 acres (11th least)
> Agency owning most land: Forest Service (244,440 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 1.4% (14th lowest)

Of the 305,502 acres of Ohio land managed by the federal government, 80% are controlled by the Forest Service. The Wayne National Forest, managed by the USFS, covers large sections of land in the southeastern portion of the state.

The Department of Defense is the second largest federal landholder in the Buckeye State. Between bases including the National Guard Ravenna Training and Log Site and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the DoD accounts for about 10% federal land in Ohio.

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41. Maine
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 1.5%
> Federal land in state: 301,481 acres (10th least)
> Agency owning most land: National Park Service (156,205 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 2.5% (12th highest)

The National Park Service owns 156,205 acres of land in Maine, or just over half of all federal land in the state. Acadia National Park, which sits along much of Maine’s coastline, is one of the most popular National Parks in the country, tallying 3.5 million visits annually. The park boasts 158 miles of hiking trails. One end of the 2,180-mile long Appalachian Trail also lies in Maine.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services owns about one-quarter of federally-managed land in Maine, and the Forest Service owns about 18%.