The Properties of the Homebuilder

Karen R. Merrill

in Public Lands and Political Meaning

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780520228627
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520926882 | DOI:
The Properties of the Homebuilder

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This chapter explores the way that the Forest Service began articulating a different vision of settling the West, which involved settlers using public property rather than homesteading it. It also concentrates on the powerful influence of the homebuilder on the politics of public grazing. The very livelihood of the West depended on keeping government control out of the public domain. The Forest Service was the first experiment to adjudicate and negotiate the competing claims of ranchers to public lands, and this experiment involved ranchers and federal bureaucrats in creating a new institution for property rights in the West. By World War I, ranchers saw their use of those lands through their private real estate; that private real estate, in turn, served as the institutional foundation for their access to public lands; those public lands were owned by a government, whose ownership was understood to be like that of an individual.

Keywords: homebuilder; Forest Service; West; politics; public grazing; public lands; property rights; World War I

Chapter.  12811 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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