A "Good Neighbor" Policy for Land Management? (for the Record)
Robert Nelson is quite right in suggesting that ending the quasi-colonial Status in which many rural Westerners live will require the creation of a new legal framework aimed at devolving decision-making authority from Washington to state and local governments ("Western Myths and Realities," Summer 2002).
According to the United States Statistical Abstract, the federal government owns 62 percent of Alaska, 45 percent of Arizona, 44 percent of California, 37 percent of Colorado, 63 percent of Idaho, 65 percent of Utah, and 83 percent of Nevada. With so much land effectively removed from local tax rolls, county governments are hard pressed to provide their dwindling number of residents with even the most elementary of services.
Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) has come up with a novel proposal that will begin to address the problem of the ever-expanding federal estate. Peterson's "Good Neighbor Act" states that if 50 percent or more of a county is owned by the National Park Service, U. …