Federal Lands:

Information on Land Owned and on Acreage with Conservation Restrictions

RCED-95-73FS: Published: Jan 30, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the management of federally-owned lands from June 3, 1964, through September 30, 1993, focusing on the changes in the amount of federally owned land: (1) managed by the four major federal land management agencies; and (2) encumbered for conservation purposes by legislative or administrative restrictions.

GAO found that: (1) the overall amount of federal land managed by the four agencies decreased from about 701 million acres to about 623 million acres during the 29-year period; (2) almost all of the decrease in federal lands was due to two large land transfers to Alaska upon statehood and to Native Alaskans pursuant to their land claims; (3) excluding these transfers, the four agencies increased their managed lands by about 34 million acres during the period through transfers from the Bureau of Land Management and new acquisitions; (4) the four agencies managed over 50 percent of the land in five states, over 25 percent of the land in seven additional states, and over 27 percent of the nation's total acreage in fiscal year (FY) 1993; (5) since FY 1993, the four agencies' managed acreage has increased due to the expansion or creation of national forests, wildlife refuges, and parks; (6) the amount of land encumbered for conservation purposes increased from about 51 million acres in FY 1964 to about 271 million acres in FY 1993; and (7) Congress has restricted additional federal lands for conservation purposes since FY 1993.

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