Return All National Parks to the States

All the wrangling over closing National Parks should be a wake-up call to tax payers and the size and scope of government. We’re told over and over again that there’s nothing in the budget that can’t be cut. Most of what our federal government does is unconstitutional. Entire agencies should be shut down. The Department of Commerce has 46,000 employees and doesn’t engage in commerce. The Department of Energy has 13,000 employees and doesn’t produce any energy.

I live a few miles from Kennesaw National Battlefield Park. Note the word “National.” The park is in Georgia, and yet when you go to the park’s website, this message appears:

“Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating. For more information, go to

It’s time that so called “federal lands” should be returned to the states. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has the right idea. He has “defied the federal government by refusing to close  popular state properties at the behest of the National Park Service.”

For example, the federal government is the largest landowner in Alaska with 60% of the total area (222 million acres). This acreage includes national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, military reservations, and the North Slope National Petroleum Reserve. More than a dozen federal agencies manage federal lands in Alaska. Let Alaska manage it. If they can’t then let the land remain wild.

Nationally, the United States government has direct ownership of almost 650 million acres of land — nearly 30% of its total territory. Here’s a list of the percentages of the top ten states where the land is owned by the Federal Government:Map_Federal Lands

  1. Nevada: 84.5%
  2. Alaska: 69.1%
  3. Utah: 57.4%
  4. Oregon: 53.1%
  5. Idaho: 50.2%
  6. Arizona: 48.1%
  7. California: 45.3%
  8. Wyoming: 42.3%
  9. New Mexico: 41.8%
  10. Colorado: 36.6%



Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles.

Posted in 10th Amendment, Constitution, Politics, socialism, Spending, Taxes, Welfare Tagged with: ,
  • patriotusa2

    Every state that is being restricted by this government should follow suit. It’s about time people with authority and some muscle took a stand. Obama is and has been abusing his power for a long time and the complacency of some of these state officials have contributed. Kudos to Governor Walker, and all those who are fed up with being forced to accept an oppressive government.

    • Ron G

      Excellent comment. Brief, honest and to the point.

      • patriotusa2


    • Patti1947

      You have said it all. Obama is going to try anything and everything to make the American people suffer because he and Harry Reid can’t compromise on the government shutdown. Personally if the republicans didn’t fight for all of us regarding Obamacare and its big deception in prices and coverage, I wouldn’t ever vote for them again. It is about time they grow some —– and stand up to the democrats. Harry Reid in insane….. Nancy Pelosi right up there with him. Wait until all American find out what Obamacare premiums and deductibles are going to cost them. Everyone will be paying a penalty because they will never be able to afford this joke coverage. That way government can have more money coming in from the people to pocket in Washington. P.S. Who cares what the Hollywood celebrities say in favor of Obamacare. Like they are going to have this insurance, RIGHT.

  • Seeker1212

    Notice that the largest plots of land owned by the government are in the western states which happen to be that same territory that Britain prevented the colonists from migrating to.

    Although it’s a great idea, most states could not financially support the parks, and they would soon deteriorate and be taken over by squatters.

    • Devasahayam

      “…the largest plots of land owned by the government are in the western
      states which happen to be that same territory that Britain prevented the
      colonists from migrating to” — incorrect: the areas which Britain didn’t allow the Colonists to expand into lie between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and constitute the Midwestern States (and note that the percentages of federally-owned land in those states is between 1 and 10%). I learned this in 10’th-grade Social Studies (in Calgary).

      The areas with most federally owned land, a high percent is in states which Mexico lost in 1846 to the US (in a war it started). The boundaries of four States that WEREN’t won in 1846 were settled after 1865 with the UK (which wanted the 40’th parallel to be its boundary — while the US, just emerged from Civil War wanted 54’th) with Imperial Russian mediation.

    • Carl Stevenson

      Most of that land should be given to its rightful owners … The people. Time for a modern version of the homestead movement.
      But, it’s harder to control people who have enough land to be independent of government handouts. That’s why they want do that land lying fallow … If people owned parcels large enough to be self-sufficient, the government handouts wouldn’t be “needed.”
      Serfs that are denied access to the resources that would allow them to be independent are much more controllable.

    • vet

      Not so.Take the grand canyon for an example.They take in 45000 per day and the only people that work for the feds is 7 park rangers.Xanterra owns the business and the railroad that take people there.The total dollars lost per month is well over 2 billion dollars.Do you think the 7 employees make that much?The attempt by them to lock the gates was shut down by the governor that told them that it was a state highway not a federal one.So they roped off the over looks which people walk around.The train was stopped and the cost of not running is 2 million per day to a company that is not working for the feds.

  • Snowman8wa

    Don’t agree………I quit going to CA State Parks, the State is inept in their management of their current parks as is WA……WA has tried TWICE now to implement a “USER FEE” called a “DISCOVER PASS” ($30.00)……first time it was repealled…..nobody wanted it; so they brought it back and you have to have it to use State Lands covered by the Department of Natural Resources and State Parks…..that means to EVEN USE WALKING TRAILS…….they mow them maybe twice a year, if you’re lucky, one trail that is 50 miles long was damaged in the 07 flood and has yet to be restored…..I’ll stick with NFS lands….
    No thank you……………..
    Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

    • ansonheath

      Should we judge all states by CA and WA? My personal experience in AZ, ID, NE, CO, and WI every year has been very positive.
      Seems like CA is a poster child for everything that the current administration is trying to achieve. God help us if they ever do!

      • Snowman8wa

        Absolutely not, but the action will not have the same outcome, which is my point.
        Yes, OR and ID has great state parks from my experiences……just as CA and WA’s management is the complete opposite of their lands; milking the constituients while using the funds for other things.
        Not to mention these state have enviro-nuts that think man should NEVER STEP FOOT into the wilderness EXCEPT for the trails they provide in the areas they provide and that should suffice in your desire to “get back to nature”.
        God gave us dominion over ALL the land for OUR USE and commanded us to be RESPONSIBLE CARETAKERS, [Genesis 1 and 2]. That is a freedom and responsibility that has never been taken away. So who is man to RESTRICT and EXCLUDE certain parts or to say what is good as if they “know better”?
        E.g. They restrict gathering of firewood and then are shocked when a fire destroys millions of acres and costs billions to put out….
        Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

      • Patti1947

        California had its chance to re-gain power and get back on track with the last governors election and they chose Gov. Brown. Therefore this state is going down the tube. I know, because I live here. Democrats are ruining California and doing a great job at it. Now illegal people can obtain drivers licenses here too. Wait until they get in an accident. Bet you anything they won’t have insurance. Our insurance will have to pay for it all and the rates will soar. Sounds fair to me. Thanks Gov. Brown. Another brainless decision to get more votes for the democrats. There is only one thing that is more rampant than government employees and that is government CORRUPTION.. Sad to say this country is being transformed just like Obama promised to do. That is the only thing he has said that is true.

    • isis5551

      Hi Snowman8wa, I am not sure what part of WA you live in. But where we live, the state parks are very well maintained. No matter where you go, you’ll always find the trashy people that don’t care. But it’s never hurt us to pick up a couple pieces of trash and put it in the garbage containors. One year, after going to DC where there were thousands of people near the Washington Monument, that place was left spotless when we left there also. It only seems to be the “occupiers” and that ilk (libtards, etc.), that seem to disregard the respect for the land.

      • Snowman8wa

        It’s not about trashy people isis5551, it is about RESTRICTIVE CONTROL, the State wants money, they compact the sites to fit as many in as they can.

        Ever been to Millersylvania SP, Ike Kinsawa, how about Conconully???, pay attention the next time you go to your favorite Park They are packed so close that I could ask my neighbor for salt and pepper and all they would have to do is turn around and hand it to me and that is not an exception. The drives are narrow even for a 1/2 ton pickup. Not to mention you have to deal with “Urban campers who have NO CONCEPT of Camper’s ettiquite”, walking through campsites, blaring radios, some just come to party away from the parents……Park fees are expensive for what amenities you are getting for the services and they still cry poor. Pretty soon, your “Voluntary Parks” Fee will not be voluntary, it is only a matter of time, if you allow it.

        This is the second go-around from the Legislature on the “DISCOVER PASS” [$30 annually or $10 for a day pass] so you obviously sucker yourself into “buying” the annual TAX in the name of a “fee”. Suprisingly, the Legislature finally listened to their constituients and gave a 2nd vehicle allocation for one pass, but that is a minor perk for little give back.

        I live in rural WA, I have a walking trail that has gravel parking pads, no vault toilets to maintain, the trail is being overgrown….no services; I used to use this for free, now I have to buy a $30 pass to park there to use the deteriorating trail, the most cars I seen there at any given time (3) of which we were one of the three.

        If you enjoy being micro-managed while trying to relax on vacation or a weekend get-away, by all means….enjoy your State Park and support them. I do not……

        Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

    • bull57

      Both states that you mention are democratic/progressive strongholds. What do you expect!!!

  • Lily Haley

    I’ve been saying this for years. The feds have gotten too big for their britches. Relinquish all state land except military bases and places they contaminated with radiation until they get the areas cleaned up.

  • Ted R. Weiland

    Return national and state parks to their rightful owners:

    “…The creation of public lands is another method employed by the Constitutional Republic to move boundary markers [Deuteronomy 19:14]. Identifying these lands as “public” is part of the ruse to conceal the theft. Except that the public is permitted limited access, they are not public at all. These lands, which are often stolen by legislation (such as the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Clean Water Act of 1977) from private property owners, are owned by the government, not the public. Even public use is changing due to the government’s increasing restriction of access. The fact that the government can and does restrict access further proves its ownership. Moreover, the public is perpetually paying taxes toward upkeep and paying fees to gain admittance to National Parks and other lands that are supposedly already theirs.

    “The people’s support of public lands is misplaced. The government has yet to demonstrate it can manage anything better than private entrepreneurs. Certainly, private owners would recognize Yellowstone National Park’s potential source of revenue and make parts of it available to the public, probably at far less expense. Dude ranches are one example of how private citizens are doing exactly this on a smaller scale….”

    For more, see online Chapter 15 “Amendment 5: Constitutional vs. Biblical Judicial Protection” ( of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.”

    • Carl Stevenson

      It is part of UN Agenda 21. The elites’ plan to eliminate private property, control resources, depopulate the world, and herd the remaining serfs into urban enclaves, the better to control them.

    • Norm Farnum

      It would make sense that “public lands” should be “governed” ideally by Biblically responsible private ownership or co-ops.

  • Carl Stevenson

    The states should just take the land … That’s how the Feds got it … They stole it from the states.
    Where in the constitution does it give the federal government the authority to take huge tracts of land from the states and their people (and claim the resources there as well?
    It’s high time the stages tell the Feds to phuck off.

    • stonemike

      Hallelujah !

  • Razorgirl53

    I’ll rate this commentary five stars and an “Amen Brother”!

    • cap

      Article 1 section 8, next to last paragraph. Feds must buy parks from states.

      • minowe

        I don’t know but I suspect that most of the federally-owned property in the western states was not purchase from the states but was never ceded to the states “in the beginning.”

        I do know about the comparatively recent formation of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. That land was taken by eminent domain, the property owners were paid by the feds (apparently because the land was just too pretty to remain in private hands) back when lakefront property wasn’t in such high demand, and the feds pay the state cash “in lieu of property taxes.” The feds don’t take very good care of the Lakeshore’s forests or paths but they sure do make rules over how the paths may be used.

        A few areas were carved out, remaining in the hands of private owners, all of whom almost certainly were friends of someone in the federal government. (Nothing changes.)

        Walking the beaches within the park is pretty, but pretty boring. Private owners would have taken better care of their property, might have erected beautiful homes, might have paid more property taxes to the state than the feds alot.

        And now, of course, the park is shut down (though so far, it seems, people may walk the trails). The feds could save themselves a lot of money by returning the park to the state of Michigan–though having seen how the state rules, I doubt the land would be returned to private ownership.

      • Steven

        Correction: Article 1, Section 8 lists SPECIFIC uses for which the Federal government my purchase land with the consent of the states. Parks or NOT on the list. Therefore, the Federal Government CAN’T purchase land for parks, and as a result, National parks are not permitted. I posted the actual text in another comment to this article.

        • cap

          Thanks for the correction.

  • vet

    And guess which states Killery used as collateral for the loans from china?Yep you guessed it and now that they are pushing for payment on the interest that the gov. can’t pay guess who will be sucked up into the china dictatorship?Right again.

  • BigUgly666

    I am not too sure about “National Parks” but I do know that ALL “BLM” land still belongs to the States, but the States have “allowed” the federals to “administer” the BLM controlled lands … these lands still belong to and are part of the respective States.
    No land of any State becomes “federal land”, such as DC, unless the federal government has purchased such lands and the respective State has ceded such lands to the federal government.

    Also see comment by ‘cap’ a few lines down – there is a Constitutional process required for the federals to acquire lands from the States.

  • Bill T Smith

    The lands should open to the people and remove the potus from the white n vice president from his DC home n build them a 4faclies bedroon n 3the bath with no more then 3200retarded sq feet and give our whitehouse back to the people plus a limited on travel n no vacations on the peoples dime. No trips on airforce one

    • Bill T Smith

      Plus any state that holds federal parks shall be the peoples parks run n operated by that state

  • gambleallen

    While we’re on the subject. Why do we have 800000 nonessential federal workers. If we get rid of them a lot of our budjet problems would be eliminated.

    • Steven

      Not eliminated, but it would be a major step in the right direction.

  • bull57

    Again, we need to remember we are dealing with the Feds. Something that is based on common sense surely cannot be entertained by the Feds. Lands close to our homes can’t be cared for by their true owners, the states. What would we do with the thousands of unnecessary federal employees? The Feds are seeking more power, not less!!!

  • Charlie

    Was told once don’t know at this point if true that it is constitutionally illegal for our government to own land . If this is so then the states should take the land that is on chart above .

    • Steven

      For the record, the ONLY mention in the Constitution of Federal ownership of land is Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 which grants Congress the power:
      “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”.

      The 10th amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

      Therefore the Federal government is only authorized to own land to be used for one of the purposes listed above. I don’t see parks anywhere on the list.
      If anyone cares, the capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in quotes above is copied directly from the Constitution,

      • Charlie

        Thank-you for your post.

  • Steven

    “Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating. For more information,
    go to”

    As if it coat any more to post the above than to leave to normal webpage up.

  • gwedem5995

    Even without all this hoopla about the shutdown of state parks. The federal government should never been in charge of them anyway. The states should take them back. Maybe if the federal government stayed out of things that were not written for them in the constitution, we wouldn’t pay so much in taxes.

  • stonemike

    States should control all their land and the federal govt should technically own nothing, the federal govt is abusive, oppressive, and harmful to states “sovereignty” and freedoms! We should have a STATES CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION and strip the federal govt of much of the power they have confiscated from the states and have used to subjugate the people!

  • myfordtruck

    It is the Peoples property not the government and obama and his cohorts should be kicked out of office and arrested for treason and sedation for trying to destroy our nation and government

  • LiveFree

    Very good discussion. At least to be honest about these “public lands”, the name should be changed to Crown Lands. Then we would understand when the king tells the serfs to get off the land that he has the right to do it. State and or private control of these federal lands is the direction to move. It is hard to believe that our forefathers fought and died to be free of a king, and now we have elected one to rule over us. How long will we stand for this?

  • battle

    Sounds like the feds should sell off some if it’s land to Americans to help pay down some of it’s debt.

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