When Rich Crandall looks at a map of the United States, he sees a century of injustice: a rough line drawn through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico that imposes federal control over most of the land west of it. “When you hit that line, there seems to be a tremendous amount of land that we don’t own,” says the Arizona state representative.
That perception, of course, is correct. Beyond the line, states in the mountain west have very little say over the use of the property within their borders. That includes 70 percent of Arizona and virtually all of Nevada. States and localities can’t tax those federal lands or control their development, though federal payments help local governments make up the losses.