Access to 8.3 million acres of public land in 11 western states is in limbo due to questions over the legality of crossing from one corner of public land to another, known as corner crossing.
The checkerboard-like acreage is highlighted in a recent report by onX, a Montana-based online mapping company, which pointed out the amount is more than half of the West’s total landlocked acreage. In Montana, this amounts to 871,000 acres, according to onX, while Wyoming leads all western states with 2.44 million acres of “corner-locked” land. Idaho trails with only 57,000 acres.
The difference between the amount of landlocked acreage is tied to the presence, or lack thereof, of Bureau of Land Management property. The majority of the “corner-locked” lands, 5.98 million acres, are thanks to land grants given to railroad companies to encourage them to build westward lines, onX found, with 70% of the parcels owned by the BLM.
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“The other 28% of corner-locked public lands tend to be on the edges of larger units of public land, perhaps a result of land being bought, sold, and swapped over the past 170 years,” onX wrote.