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Public Lands

Land that is owned by the United States government.

Public land refers to the public domain, unappropriated land belonging to the federal government that is subject to sale or other disposal under general laws and is not reserved for any particular governmental or public purpose.

Much of this land was acquired early in the history of the United States as a result of purchases, wars, or treaties made with foreign countries. The federal government used this land to encourage growth, settlement, and economic development. Land that was not developed, homesteaded, or sold remained in federal ownership as public land. Today, the federal government employs principles of land use planning and environmental protection to preserve the natural resources and scenic beauty found on public land.

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