Why Does The Goverment Owns 29.1 Million Acres of Property in Wyoming?

By: Riley Brown | Published: Jan 10, 2024

Wyoming is known as the tenth-largest U.S. state and is home to over 97,000 miles of grasslands. However, Wyoming is the least populated state on record.

Despite its emptiness, it’s home to one of the biggest landowners in the country, especially after the accrual of 29.1 million acres. The landowner, you ask? It’s the federal government.

Why Would the Government Care About Land in Wyoming?

Wyoming is incredibly rich with natural resources and perks — including its expansive historic trails, rich deep-earth mineral composites and miles upon miles of land.

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One of the many winding plain trails that Wyoming has to offer.

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These benefits could majorly contribute to the government’s drive to purchase land in Wyoming, as they’ve amassed nearly a third of the state properties available. The question on everyone’s minds: how much property does the government own?

By the Numbers: Government Property Ownership in Wyoming

At the time of this publication, there are 63 million acres available in Wyoming. Of those, the government owns 29,100,000.

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By-the-numbers reporting that showcases numerical content and data in a convenient visual form.

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These numbers are overwhelming to consider, so we’ll simplify it by control. In short, the government is confirmed to control 46.7% of the land in the state. That’s quite a bit of land.

Where Does the Bureau of Land Management Come In?

The government doesn’t manage their properties exclusively, however. They mainly operate through an arm of the Bureau of Land Management. This entity works to promote the biodiversity and health of public lands around the country.

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A truck driven by a ranger parks conveniently off of the side of an access road, preparing to do ecology work.

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Experts note that once land is under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) custody it may not go back up for public sale.

How Much Land Does the Bureau of Land Management Oversee in Wyoming?

On a national scale, the United States owns 640 million acres of the country’s national 2.27 billion acres. That equates to about 28%.

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Data specialists look at data on a laptop and on paper.

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Of this total, 29,100,000 acres in Wyoming belong to the government, contributing to their mass ownership of 640 million acres. Of the 29+ million, the BLM oversees 61%.

What Do the Feds Own in Wyoming? Here’s What We Know

We know that the government owns a great deal of land in Wyoming, but what does it actually break down into?

A woman reviews a stack of papers in her hands.

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Currently, 39% of federally-owned land in Wyoming is deemed public. This includes forests, parks and refuges. The rest are mineral estate reserves that are rich with natural gas and oil, and are controlled by the BLM.

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Where Does Tourism Come Into Play?

Despite land being federally funded, many tourists still come to take in the natural beauty. In fact, one of Wyoming’s primary industries is tourism. They accrue nearly 13 times their population in tourists per year.

A woman drags a suitcase behind her, heading to the airport.

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Per 2022 records, about 2.9 million visitors from that travel year traversed government-owned properties and public land.

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Where Do Tourists Go in Wyoming?

Since tourism is a primary industry in the state, it’s no surprise that visitors were exploring federally-owned land. Popular hotspots included Yellowstone National Park, the numerous state lakes and fishing holes, and the forests.

Yellowstone National Park steams and bubbles, active with regular geyser activity.

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Hunters, fishermen, outdoorsy people, and influencers flock to Wyoming year-round, participating in their hobbies and visiting with the locals.

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Planning a Trip? Don’t Forget the Trails

There are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the outdoors in Wyoming, even if the places you want to go to are on government property. People particularly enjoy walking the winding Wyoming trails.

A remote winding trail in Wyoming divulges into two paths

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Some of the most popular trails to traverse include the Pony Express, the Oregon Trail, and the Mormon Pioneer Trail.

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Wait a Minute — Why Does the Government Care About Minerals?

The BLM arm in charge of the Wyoming land is one of the highest-producing mineral resources in the country. The government probably wants to have connections in this area, as they work to build and stabilize the country’s strategic reserves.

Cut white mineral stone is placed against a black background, gleaming brightly.

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That may leave you wondering: exactly how much of each mineral type does the government produce?

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Coal, Uranium, and Bentonite (Oh My)

Some of the most popular minerals that the United States keeps a repository of are from Wyoming’s rich mineral deposits. These include coal, trona, gas, oil, and uranium (just to name a few). The state is responsible for 40% of the country’s coal annually.

Cut slabs of coal are being prepared for mass shipping and use

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Additionally, Wyoming has one of the biggest oil, gas, and uranium reserves in the country.

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What Other Agencies Help the Government Manage Wyoming Land?

While the government is the largest landowner in Wyoming, they are supported by the BLM and a number of other agencies in the management of the assets.

Government-managed land in Yellowstone National Park.

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Some of these agencies include the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Defense.

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