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Why Texas has no — or at least very little) public land

Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2011 12:00 am

Nearly every state west of the Mississippi has "public land." In some of them, there's more land in the public domain - federally owned - than there is in private hands. In Arizona in particular only about 10 percent of the state is privately owned and therefore taxable by the state. All the rest is various tribal reservations or federally owned - and Arizona is a big state. In Texas there is practically no "public land" outside state and national parks. Why?

The answer lies in how Texas became a state.

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  • camper gal posted at 11:41 am on Sun, Jan 12, 2014.

    camper gal Posts: 1

    live in Montana
    While the newspaper article above is not current MY concern is very current. I moved from Texas to Montana in 1983 and it was quite a shock to "understand" how much public land there was. To go camping is like a National Geographic picture. All is well maintained (what the wildfires or beetle kill don't get). Now we have a real rabble rouser from Utah (legislator Ken Ivory) who is trying to gain ground & enough supporters to turn our public lands over to the state. What a scary thought. If that happened we would then be in your position where you have to pay for a deer lease in order to have a place to hunt. We are so lucky and it breaks my heart to even imagine a change like some want.


  • Scott Massay posted at 3:39 pm on Tue, Mar 5, 2013.

    Scott Massay Posts: 1

    I just read this and as a multigenerational descendantant, Peters,(W.S.) descendant, Peters Colony, North Texas, (same time as Austin's Colony in Central Texas), proud Texan and an avid Texas history fanatic. I always love to read anything about our great state. The "XIT Ranch" was one the best stories and I would STRONGLY encourage anyone to read about it. Haley did write it, but there was an error in the story about how they came up with that "Brand Symbol". "XIT" actually stood for the 10 counties(Roman numeral 10 = X ) it spread out into, inside the state. XIT = 10 IN TEXAS, which rustlers would use a great variety of altrerations to that brand so they could steal the cattle to resale. Some of them were very ingenious to see. We traded the monsterous piece of what Texas thought was useless land. The real deal to the Chicago businessmen was good too. We traded them 3 million acres in the Panhandle, + 50,000 acres to just to pay for the Surveyor, which took years to accomplish. 6,000 miles of barbed wire, train car loads of fence posts, fence staples, and wire-stays, etc. Now look at what we DID get though. I've NEVER seen any grander Capital Building ANYWHERE!. Beats the heck out of the Whitehouse, Capital Building, or anything, by a country mile!!!!

  • Dldmny posted at 11:10 am on Tue, Mar 29, 2011.

    Dldmny Posts: 436

    Every state has public lands and much (east of the Mississippi at least) are easily accessed. Texas ranks 47th in terms of the percentage of publically owned land. Most of which is either inaccessible and/or inhospitable to the public. People accustomed to having access to public lands and recreational opportunities are sadly disappointed when relocating here. Yes, I realize that the highways leading here run both ways, but a state this large should be able to afford accessible public land. Texans should not have to wait for ranching heirs to donate undesirable /inaccessible land for that purpose.