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There is a virulent movement in the West and now in the Congress to give federal lands "back" to the states - as if the states had ever owned them.
Of course, the original owners were the Native Americans. In the West, the Spanish took the lands, and then the American people either bought or fought for them. (At the time, those American people lived in the East. The western states did not exist yet.) Then the easterners, through their federal government, gave the land away. They gave 287 million acres to homesteaders, 94 million acres to railroad companies, 61 million acres to veterans, and (westerners please note) 328 million to the newly forming states.
Hundreds of millions of acres of deserts, mountains, and high plains went unclaimed. They became the …