1. News & Issues

There Just is No Free or Cheap Government Land

Congress Abolished Homesteading in 1976

By

No matter what you may have heard or read, there is no such thing as "free land from the government." There is no federal homesteading program and any public land the government does sell is sold only at fair market value.

Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLMPA), the federal government took over ownership of public lands and abolished all remaining traces of the often-amended Homestead Act of 1862.

Specifically, the FLMPA declared that, "the public lands be retained in Federal ownership, unless as a result of the land use planning procedure provided in this Act, it is determined that disposal of a particular parcel will serve the national interest..."

Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oversees the use of some 264 million acres of public land, representing about one-eighth of all the land in the United States. In passing the FLMPA, Congress assigned the main duty of the BLM as "the management of the public lands and their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people."

The BLM does occasionally sell parcels of land under certain conditions. The lands are generally rural woodland, grassland, or desert and located in the western states. For more information, see: Government Sales of Public Land.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.