Special Report

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

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35. Alabama
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 2.7%
> Federal land in state: 880,188 acres (21st least)
> Agency owning most land: Forest Service (670,889 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 2.6% (10th highest)

Some 54,000 federal government employees work in Alabama, equivalent to 2.6% of the state’s employment — the 10th largest share of all states. While the state has a relatively high number of federal employees, federal land ownership is relatively low in the state. Approximately 70% of state land is forests, one of the highest shares of any state.

Over three-quarters of the 670,000 federal acres in Alabama are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The state is home to several major national forests, including the Talladega National Forest and the William B. Bankhead National Forest.

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34. Maryland
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 3.2%
> Federal land in state: 205,362 acres (7th least)
> Agency owning most land: Department of Defense (113,487 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 5.3% (the highest)

Maryland is one of only three states where the federal agency managing the most land in the state is the Department of Defense. In large part due to its proximity to the nation’s capital, the state is home to five major military bases and a total of over 100 DoD facilities. These include Fort George G. Meade and the over 70,000 acre Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Close to 2% of Maryland’s total acreage is DoD-managed land, the second-highest share of any state.

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33. New Jersey
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 3.6%
> Federal land in state: 171,956 acres (6th least)
> Agency owning most land: Fish and Wildlife Service (73,785 acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 1.2% (5th lowest)

New Jersey is one of five states where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the agency that manages the largest share of federal-owned land. The FWS manages the 47,000 acre Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge on the state shoreline, North of Atlantic City, among other lands.

The Department of Defense also controls more than 60,000 acres — the state is home to the over 40,000 acre Joint Base McGuire — Dix — Lakehurst near Trenton.

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32. Missouri
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 3.8%
> Federal land in state: 1.7 million acres (24th most)
> Agency owning most land: Forest Service (1.5 million acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 1.9% (21st highest)

Nearly all of the 1.7 million acres of federally-owned land in Missouri are controlled by the Forest Service. The Mark Twain National Forest covers much of the southern part of the state and accounts for most of the 1.5 million acres the Forest Service manages in the state. The Department of Defense also owns over 79,000 acres of Missouri, including Fort Leonard Wood. The Fish and Wildlife Service owns over 61,000 acres, spread out among several national wildlife refuges.

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31. North Dakota
> Land owned by federal gov’t: 3.9%
> Federal land in state: 1.7 million acres (23rd most)
> Agency owning most land: Forest Service (1.1 million acres)
> Federal employment as pct. of workforce: 2.1% (19th highest)

The federal government owns 1.7 million acres in North Dakota, equivalent to nearly 4% of state land. Of that, the Forest Service controls 1.1 million acres, most of which comprises the over 1 million acre Little Missouri National Grassland in the western part of the state. It is the largest national grassland in the country.