Federal land has been around longer than many of the states in which it appears. As our young country expanded in the 19th century, it acquired 1.8 billion acres of public domain land. To encourage western settlement, the federal government aggressively pursued land disposal policies, divesting over 1.2 billion acres of this land to individuals, businesses and land grants. Due to the rough terrain in the West, some of the available land went unclaimed. As the states sought annexation, they signed the Enabling Acts (see figure below) in which they unequivocally disclaimed all right and title to the unappropriated land. This kept the federal government responsible for management of such land, and allowed the states to avoid financial responsibility for these areas. With one-third of the original land remaining, federal policy shifted from disposal to retention in the 20th century. 


The Enabling Acts:

Simply being aware of American history is sufficient to recognize the illegitimacy of the land-seizure movement advocated by fringe groups. Although it's far from the only reason.