What Are Federal Lands

January 22, 2024
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What are federal lands? Explore the conservation and preservation efforts in the designated land areas across the United States.

What Are Federal Lands

Federal lands refer to lands owned, managed, and administered by the Federal government. Federal lands including national parks, wilderness areas, national wildlife refuges, military reservations, and public-domain land are owned by the United States Federal Government. The purpose is to provide recreational and other opportunities to the public as well as provide further development, and scientific research.

National Public Land Types

The below list is a general overview of the types of lands currently considered federal or government-owned and the main purpose behind them.

National Parks

These vast amounts of land can only be designated by Congress and are managed by the National Parks System. They protect the landscapes and offer recreational opportunities for the public.

Wildlife Refuges

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages wildlife refuges with the main goal of safeguarding and conserving America’s fish, wildlife habitats, and native plants.

National Monuments

Often carrying a cultural and historic value, national monuments are managed by various government agencies often working together to protect their safety.

Wilderness Areas

The Wilderness Act of 1964 gives Congress the power to designate wilderness areas to ensure that America’s wild lands stay inaccessible to the public. The Bureau of Land Management currently manages over 800 wilderness areas spanning over 110 million acres in 44 states.

Conservation Areas

Similar to national parks, national conservation areas are designated by Congress and include some of the most amazing landscapes our country has to offer.  This land is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management.

Many other publicly accessible federal lands include national memorials, historic sites, and recreational areas.

Federal Land Holders and Management Agencies

In the United States, federal lands are managed by different agencies, each with its specific mission and focus. The major federal land management agencies include:

·        Bureau of Land Management (BLM): Manages public lands for multiple uses with a mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

·        U.S. Forest Service (USFS): Manages national forests and grasslands for sustainable resource use, including timber harvesting, grazing, and recreation.

·        National Park Service (NPS): Administers and manages national parks, monuments, and other protected areas for conservation and public enjoyment.

·        U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): Focuses on the conservation and protection of wildlife and their habitats.

·        U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR): Manages water resources and infrastructure in the western United States.


Federal lands can include a wide range of ecosystems, from forests and grasslands to deserts and wetlands. All playing a crucial role in the ecosystem, federal land offers opportunities to preserve biodiversity, support outdoor recreation, and ensure sustainable resource management. To dive even deeper in this critical and intricate topic, check out the full article on our specialized land website where you can also browse all our land listings and get connected with a land expert today!