The Difference between Public Lands and Private Lands

The Difference between Public Lands and Private LandsWhen you think about property, you usually consider what you see around you – the parks, the streets, the yards of the houses and even the vast areas that are full of forests and lakes. The truth is that the land is everything that you see, but it’s divided into two forms of ownership – private and public.

Let’s see the difference between public lands and private lands and the rights that come with them.

The Public Lands

When you think about this type of property, you need to consider that it belongs to the nation, to the government. The truth is that this kind of land belongs to everyone – all citizens in common. Different national agencies exercise the rights for using these areas through various laws. Usually, this land belongs to cities, states, counties or the federal government and you can also call it “public domain,” though not to be confused with “public domains” in reference to internet businesses and websites.

Some of the agencies that manage the public domain are the US National Park Services, the Fish and Wildlife Service or the US Forest Service. You will also hear about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the US Department of Defense.

One example of public land is a national park or a national monument. However, the wilderness is another type of public land that is undeveloped. These areas can belong only to the federal agencies, and some refuges and parks are almost entirely designated wilderness. You can also have a wilderness study area, which is an area of land that has wilderness characteristics, is managed as one, but it doesn’t have a specific designation.

The Recreation and Grazing on Public Lands

Many of the public lands are open for public and recreational use. The opportunities for recreation depend on the agency that manages the area. If you choose to go to a wildlife refuge, you will be able to do wildlife watching, hunting (if it’s allowed), hiking or fishing. The forests will have a mix of maintained roads and trails, undeveloped and wilderness portions, along with camping and picnic developed areas.

Apart from recreational activities, you can also lease the public land for grazing by sheep or cattle. For these types of events, you can get part of forests or other areas, but you will never be able to get a part of a national park.

The Private Lands

If you consider the name, private land is any land that is not public property or public domain. It is correct to assume this because the public agencies don’t own the private property. As you certainly know, the private land belongs to individuals – collectively or singly. Regarding the collective ownership, it is correct to say that corporations or firms can own land.

There is always the possibility to market energy and minerals from the land, and because the rights to do so are severable, they are also fully marketable by any and all owners of the property. For example, private individuals may own the mineral rights on public land. The owners that have the rights to use the resources can sell their rights for exploration, marketing, and production of minerals and energy to other owners, who in turn can engage third parties for conduction extractions.

It may seem complicated, but it’s very simple. There can be owners of rights and owners of land and not all the times they are one and the same.

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