Is public land a key component to overall well-being?

It seems worthy of note that six of the top ten states in the nation as ranked by a recent USA Today for the perceived “well-being” of their residents are also among the top 12 states in the Percentage of Public Land area. The main exceptions to this trend were the three states which have been more economically insulated through natural resource production (Texas and South Dakota) and agricultural production (Nebraska).

Conversely, the lowest ten states in the ranking for resident “well-being” included four states in the lowest ten in public land ownership; seven of the lowest ten ranked being in the bottom one-third in terms of public land ownership.

Although no one is suggesting that there is no ultimate point of diminishing returns on public land ownership, two things appear to be clear. First, the presence of public land can represent both an economic asset as well as an enhancement to the quality of life. Secondly, the benefits attributable to the presence of public land can only be fully recognized if managed in a diversified and sustainable manner where these benefits can accrue to the greatest number of its citizens.

Here’s the link to the details of the USA Today well-being survey:

Top 10 states ranked highest for overall perceived “well-being” with their rank as percentage of public land shown in parentheses:

1. Alaska (1st in % of public land)

2. Hawaii (21st)

3. South Dakota (29th)

4. Wyoming (5th)

5. Montana (12th)

6. Colorado (9th)

7. Nebraska (48th)

8. Utah (3rd)

9. New Mexico (8th)

10. Texas (47th)

Bottom 10 states ranked for overall perceived “well-being” with their rank as percentage of public land shown in parentheses:

41. Missouri (33rd in % of public land)

42. Michigan (15th)

43. Arkansas (22nd)

44. Tennessee (23rd)

45. Alabama (41st)

46. Mississippi (36th)

47. Ohio (43rd)

48. Indiana (46th)

49. Kentucky (42nd)

50. West Virginia (24th)

About Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The mission of the Northern Michigan Conservation Network is to "connect conservation-minded hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to those issues affecting Michigan's forests, waters, and wildlife."

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