Public Lands 101 (2023)

When we talk about public lands in Montana, we mean lands owned by all Americans and managed by the federal government. We also mean lands owned and managed by the state.

Public lands managed by the federal government constitute about 30% of Montana’s landmass. The U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service are the federal agencies that manage these lands.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks are the two agencies responsible for managing state lands, which constitute about 5% of Montana’s landmass.

Wild Montana engages all of these agencies, at the state and federal level, in our efforts to protect the wild, confront climate change, enhance public land access, and help communities thrive.

Public Land Acknowledgement

All lands in the United States, including public lands, are the traditional and contemporary homelands of hundreds of Indigenous nations that have lived here since time immemorial. Public lands and the idea of Wilderness were predicated on the forcible and systemic removal of Indigenous people from their ancestral lands and ways, a removal that has rippling impacts today, especially in Montana, which is home to nine reservations, 12 tribes, and an Indigenous population of around 80,000.

We honor and celebrate the historical presence of Indigenous peoples and their ongoing connections to public lands. We acknowledge that Montana’s public lands are the traditional and contemporary homelands of many Indigenous nations, including but not limited to: the Sélish (Bitterroot Salish); the Qlispé (Pend d’Oreille, Upper Kalispel); the Ktunaxa (Kootenai); the Niitstapi or Pikuni (Blackfeet); the Ne-i-yah-wahk (Plains Cree); the A’aninin (Gros Ventre); the Nakoda (Assiniboine); the Lakota and Dakota (Sioux); the Tsetsêhesêstâhase and So’taa’eo’o (Northern Cheyenne); the Apsáalooke (Crow); the Annishinabe and Métis (Little Shell Chippewa); the Nimipuu (Nez Perce); and the Shoshone-Bannock peoples.


What are the 8 classes of public land? ›

America's Public Lands Explained
  • National Parks and Preserves. ...
  • National Wildlife Refuges. ...
  • National Monuments. ...
  • National Historic Sites. ...
  • National Memorials. ...
  • National Battlefields. ...
  • National Recreation Areas. ...
  • National Seashores and National Lakeshores.
Jan 31, 2023

What is the purpose of public lands? ›

Public lands aren't just for humans. They protect ecosystems that are important for the survival of wildlife, ensuring that current and future generations can see animals in their natural habitats -- from a safe distance, of course.

What are considered public lands? ›

What are public lands? Public lands are areas of land and water that today are owned collectively by U.S. citizens and managed by government agencies. Public lands are different from private lands, which are owned by an individual, a business or another type of non-governmental organization.

What are three uses of public lands in the United States? ›

Public lands have an incredibly wide range of uses, including recreation, research, cultural or historical preservation, and even energy extraction.

What are the types of land? ›

Type of Land Area (PD3922)
  • Urban/Built-up Land.
  • Agricultural Land.
  • Rangeland.
  • Forest Land.
  • Water Areas.
  • Wetland.
  • Barren Land.
  • Tundra.

What are all the types of land? ›

Mountains, hills, plateaus, and plains are the four major types of landforms. Minor landforms include buttes, canyons, valleys, and basins.

How do we manage public lands? ›

To manage public lands, the BLM prepares land-use plans, also known as resource management plans (RMPs), which serve as blueprints for keeping public landscapes healthy and productive for multiple-use.

What did public lands used to be called? ›

Stack said that Field & Stream properties that the company already owns will serve as good facilities for the new concept. He said the change from Field & Stream to Public Lands would include taking out the hunting department and modifying a couple of other departments.

How much of America is public lands? ›

Nearly 40% of the United States is public land, supported by taxpayers and managed by federal, state, or local governments.

Which country has most public land? ›

Australia leads the list of countries with the most national parks by an incredible distance, home to over 600 national parks.

What is the history of public lands? ›

The first U.S.public lands were formed when stateswith western land claims agreed to cede claims to the new national government under the Articles of Confederation. At its height in 1867, the public domain of the U.S. comprised 1.8 billion acres of land.

Who owns public lands in the US? ›

The majority of public lands in the United States are held in trust for the American people by the federal government and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the United States National Park Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, or the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of the Interior, or by the ...

What are the 5 most common uses of land? ›

There are five main different types of land use: residential, agricultural, recreation, transportation, and commercial. Managing the various uses of land occurs through partnerships between state, federal, and municipal entities, but many decisions affecting local projects occur at the municipal level.

What are 5 ways people use land? ›

Definition of Land Use

“Land use” is the term used to describe the human use of land. It represents the economic and cultural activities (e.g., agricultural, residential, industrial, mining, and recreational uses) that are practiced at a given place.

Which type of public land is the most protected? ›

National parks are most famous and notable of all public lands. When most people think of public lands, they think of national parks. Because national parks are reserved for special and unique places in nature, they are the most protected.

What are the 5 basic lands? ›

There are five “basic land types”: Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest.

What are the 7 major land forms? ›

The United States is home to a large variety of landforms including mountains, hills, plateaus, plains, rivers, lakes, valleys, and canyons.

What are 6 examples of land? ›

The land includes - Surface of the earth like plains, plateaus, mountains, etc; Sea, rivers, ponds, etc; Air, light, etc; Oil, coal, natural gas, etc; Silver, gold, and other metals and minerals.

What are the principles of land use? ›

(a) The land is the free gift of the nature to the man for the sustenance of life. (b) The productive capacity of each land must be increased. (c) Each land have fixed boundary according to human needs and physical resistance factor of the nature. (d) Each land has owner under certain customary rights.

What is the concept of land? ›

The basic concept of land is that it is a specific piece of earth, a property with clearly delineated boundaries, that has an owner. You can view the concept of land in different ways, depending on its context, and the circumstances under which it's being analyzed.

What is land called? ›

Land, also known as dry land, ground, or earth, is the solid terrestrial surface of Earth not submerged by the ocean or another body of water. It makes up 29.2% of Earth's surface and includes all continents and islands.

What are the issues facing public lands? ›

Destruction of Indigenous Peoples' sacred places. Congressional and administrative rollbacks of protections for public lands. Pollution from automobiles and industry. Unsustainable mining, logging and energy development on public lands, driven by high consumption in the U.S. and around the world.

What are three land management strategies? ›

Sustainable land-management practices such as conservation tillage, cover cropping, and crop rotation can improve soil health by reducing erosion, increasing organic matter, and enhancing soil structure. These practices increase soil fertility, improve water infiltration, and reduce soil degradation.

What are the four major public land management agencies? ›

Four major federal land management agencies—the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS)—are responsible for managing about 95% of these lands.

Who created public lands? ›

In 1862, Congress passed the Homestead Act, which provided homesteaders with 160 acres of government land for farming purposes. Ultimately, more than 270 million acres of public land was given away for free to 1.6 million homesteaders.

Is public lands the same as field and stream? ›

Dick's is choosing to convert a portion of the Field & Stream stores to its new House of Sport concept over its new Public Lands store brand that operates in many of the same categories of merchandise as its predecessor.

What is the difference between the BLM and the Forest Service? ›

Unlike the US Forest Service, the BLM manages essentially no land in the eastern U.S. This is because BLM managed lands were created from “surplus” public lands that the federal government had not designated as National Forests or given to homesteaders.

Who owns the most public land in the US? ›

The federal government owns about 640 million acres (2.6 million km2) of land in the United States, about 28% of the total land area of 2.27 billion acres (9.2 million km2).

Where is the most public land in the US? ›

The state with the highest percentage of federal land is Nevada, of which 80.1%, or 56,262,610 acres of its total landmass is federally managed.

Who owns the most land in the US? ›

The 2022 Land Report 100, compiled each year by The Land Report magazine, released its annual list of landowners who own the most acres in the United States. The nation's largest private landowners are the Emmerson family in California who own over 2.4 million acres.

What are the types of land and what are they for? ›

There are six main categories or types of land use. These types include: residential, commercial, agricultural, transportation, recreational, and industrial uses.

What are the different categories of public land used globally and in the United States? ›

Public lands include parks, monuments, wilderness areas, refuges, underground mineral reserves, marine sanctuaries, historic parks, forests, and seashores. Throughout American history, the administration of this great national resource has been tied to politics and the powerful elements of economic development.

What is the difference between the BLM and the USFS? ›

Unlike the US Forest Service, the BLM manages essentially no land in the eastern U.S. This is because BLM managed lands were created from “surplus” public lands that the federal government had not designated as National Forests or given to homesteaders.

Which type of public lands have restricted use? ›

Restricted-Use Lands include the National Park System and the National Wilderness Reservation System. 9. The National Park System includes 54 major parks and 324 National Recreation areas, monuments, memorials, battlefields parkways, seashores, etc.

What are the 5 basic land types? ›

There are five “basic land types”: Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest. Each one has a mana ability associated with it. See rule 305, “Lands.”

What are the 5 characteristics of land? ›

Land possesses the following characteristics:
  • Free Gift of Nature: ...
  • Fixed Quantity: ...
  • Land is Permanent: ...
  • Land is a Primary Factor of Production: ...
  • Land is a Passive Factor of Production: ...
  • Land is Immovable: ...
  • Land has some Original Indestructible Powers: ...
  • Land Differs in Fertility:

What are the six types of land use? ›

Definition of Land Use

“Land use” is the term used to describe the human use of land. It represents the economic and cultural activities (e.g., agricultural, residential, industrial, mining, and recreational uses) that are practiced at a given place. Public and private lands frequently represent very different uses.

What is the most common type of land use? ›

Agriculture is a major use of land. Half of the world's habitable land is used for agriculture. The extensive land use has a major impact on the earth's environment as it reduces wilderness and threatens biodiversity.

Is BLM considered public land? ›

Q: What is the BLM? A: The Bureau of Land Management is a division of the U.S. Department of Interior that oversees more than 245 million acres of public lands – more land than any other government agency.

Why does BLM land exist? ›

BLM was established on July 16, 1946, when the General Land Office and the U.S. Grazing Service were merged. More than 70 years later, it remains a small agency with a big job -- managing public lands for multiple-uses like recreation and natural resource development for the benefit of present and future generations.

What land is owned by BLM? ›

The BLM manages one in every 10 acres of land in the United States, and approximately 30 percent of the Nation's minerals. These lands and minerals are found in every state in the country and encompass forests, mountains, rangelands, arctic tundra, and deserts.

What type of public land is most protected? ›

Wilderness Areas

“Wilderness” is the highest level of protection federal public lands can receive. This designation preserves the wild character of a landscape and ensures that it remains free from development. Like national parks, wilderness areas can only be established by an act of Congress.

What state has the most public land? ›

The state with the highest percentage of federal land is Nevada, of which 80.1%, or 56,262,610 acres of its total landmass is federally managed.


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