The government owns some of it. Other bits are privately owned.
The government generally won’t sell you their parts as they are usually wilderness preserves. They aren’t going to sell you any land in the Mojave National Preserve, for example.
According to some random site I got to from google (how’s that for a cite) the U.S. Government owns 84 percent of Nevada. Some of that is natural wilderness areas. Other parts are nuclear test sites, places where they dump nuclear waste and other crap, and of course, that place where the reptilian aliens who secretly rule the world live (Area 51). The government does occasionally auction off some of this land, but they don’t sell it off in Mojave Desert sized chunks. You can easily buy much smaller bits of land, though.
Private land is equally cut up into small sections. In the Mojave, there are quite a few old ghost towns (quite a few of them being abandoned silver mining towns). If you can find who owns the land, you can often buy it fairly cheap. Making it habitable is all on you, though. There’s a reason it’s cheap. I did read a story about a guy who bought a ghost town and opened up the old saloon as a biker bar. According to the article I read, he was doing fairly well for himself.
The U.S. Government owns a pretty big chunk of Alaska, too. The State of Alaska owns a fair chunk of land there as well. Native corporations own some sizable chunks of land there, too. So again, there’s no huge chunk of land that you could just go there and buy, even if you had the funds to do so.
Lands of America or LandWatch are the websites I go to regularly. Look up for Nevada, Texas. You’ll find huge swaths of land for very little money. THere really is nothing out there though, so you may visit your land one day and go ‘neat!’ but after you get hungry, thirsty or hot, you’ll go back into town and look for someone to buy it from you. I see you can get some property easily for $250 an acre. THere might be some for $100 and acre
The railroads still own vast swathes of the American West, dating back to the system of railroad land grants beginning in the 1860s. One hundred and thirty million acres, totalling ten percent of the land area of the continental U.S., passed through the hands of the railroads, and as late as the 1990s the Union Pacific Railroad was the largest private landowner west of the Mississippi.
YES. MUCH .
This is the pre-platt estate problem.
As you say, developer buys bulk cheap land… Subdivides, sells house sized blocks (1/4 acre to 30 acre, not enough for ranching.)… This who would live there ? its not viable , as its not large enough for ranching. (and wheres the water rights ? with the developer, who keeps it on his real ranch !. )
Have you ever heard the phrase "I have a nice block near the Everglades I could sell you cheap ? ". Nice… yes its a swamp …roads to it are overgrown, drains are blocked with new trees, the roads flood every year, the “schools in the next county” is still 50 miles away… The developers were conmen who temporarily diverted drainage uphille, AND sold the land IN THE MIDDLE OF A DROUGHT !. Florida has policies to buys back such land that is still relatively intact everglades, where it can find the owner to negotiate a (low) price, or claim it due to unpaid taxes/duties/fees/etc, and joins it back into wetlands reserve. But still definitely much freehold land still there, sitting there with a flooded roadways that were bulldozed in the 60’s, trees growing in them, and drainage systems with no concrete , filling up with debris, turning into pools, and basically being uninhabitable in any sensible way…
BTW, florida still has a law that animal farming there is a tax deduction, so it is possible to use the land, by renting the beasts, and therefore validating your home as your “ranch facility”… a tax deduction.
Deserts ? yes.
California City had its origins in 1958 when real estate developer and sociology professor Nat Mendelsohn purchased 80,000 acres (320 km2) of Mojave Desert land with the aim of master-planning California’s next great city…
Growth did not happen anywhere close to what he expected. To this day a vast grid of crumbling paved roads, intended to lay out residential blocks, extends well beyond the developed area of the city.
In fact, keep on going over to the east, New Mexico, Arizona. Texas, and you see the square 1, 2 mile blocks defined by roads… for what bloody use ? none at all. Down texas you see land turned over to oil wells … with their driveways clearly joining onto the square road grids…
Now NSW, Australia… That also suffered due to private ownership of farming lands…
Basically NSW handed it all over, as long as the owner proved… Essentially, chopping down the trees and making the roughest shed out of them proved it.
Hang on, those trees prevent erosion… and rising salt !.
There’s salt in the water table in the lowest areas as the salt can’t wash out (the rock layer formed a dish and the salt is therefore trapped in the dish… there’s not enough rain to wash the salt out, so it collected there over tens of thousands of years… ) So then the farmers chop down trees and irrigate, and the water table is up to the surface… oh its salty … Turns the area into useless salt pan. it would take the water from 1000 Hoover dams to flush just a single such area…can’t be done, its wrecked until the irrigation upstream stops and rare rain events wash the salt away (a few thousand years…) … Land that is too salty for crops or grass might saved by planting salt tolerant trees, so that the trees accelerate evaporation and drop the water table down a bit, so the land at the top is no longer evaporating salty water… then minimal irrigation can desalinate.
You can see the difference over the west of NSW… You can see lines of nice natural scrub, this is gov owned land, because gov knew to reserve some , because of various things… they knew that the river might be dammed, they knew the wetlands might be turned into a lake, they knew that the rocky valley may be cheaper for roads and railways than flat land… They knew that hillsides were not suitable for towns, houses, as fire races uphill… Thats one bit of knowledge that has since been forgotten (Sydney for example, and Malibu California ? )
Now onto some NSW , Australia development ideas… unscrupulous developers…
North Arm Cove, Port Stephens… sold as subdivision suitable for housing…
Look its cheap , just buy it now, and soon the government will let you build your house… Um, 60 years later, its still not allowed… people have throughout the decades tried it on, that is, tried to scam new buyers… perhaps the agent gets agreement to sell from the owner, at a low price, but doesn’t go through with purchase unless he already has a buyer… who is told its going to be rezoned.
Council has put up a sign at the entry to the area “YOU CANNOT BUILD HOUSES HERE, and no plan to allow it !”. http://northarmcove.nsw.au/generalinfo/roadblocks-remain-coves-non-urban-land-owners
1915 subdivision… paper subdivision, as in there was no actual town there, there’s no road, no water, in fact not fitting in with the proper process of subdivision for housing as was proper in 1915… … (these days you can’t subdivide , as in create free hold titles to small blocks, unless the land is actually going to be useful in such a small block… and infrastructure for that use is put in place by the developer… there’s also more to it , but thats the basics… back in 1915, you could subdivide farming land to small blocks… But its a paper subdivision when the farming/rural land is subdivided and sold as if for housing ! ) “The vendor is driving the re-rezoning”. The vendor is doing what ??? The vendor is only “driving re-zoning” if he is paying ALL COSTS of providing infrastructure. actually there’s the minor problem of geology… and ecology … health of the lake… its a wetlands… the area floods. The owner must understand that the land can be used, as long as its a use compatible with preserving the ecology and the flood way status.
Back in the 70’s, while visiting a friend in the Phoenix area, I saw an acre (or thereabouts) of land advertised for sale. This plot of land, however, was nearly vertical, being on the side of a mountain.
Yeah, the vast acreage of Alaska is pretty much all owned by the Feds in various ways (National Parks, National Forests, National Monuments, Military land, and so on), or the State of Alaska in various ways (State Parks, State Forests, and on and on), or Native Corporations.
Private land on the road system or near villages is actually quite expensive, compared to the vast privately owned ranches and such in the Lower 48. There are some private parcels way out in the boonies that aren’t that expensive, but how are you going to get there? OK, you can build a cabin there. And then what? Your building materials and food and consumables all have to be flown in. As do the people. I guess if you’re a private pilot who can’t stand to be around other human beings then it might be an OK life, as long as you have some way of getting money that doesn’t require working with other human beings. Living off the land is surprisingly difficult in a place where the ground is frozen for more than half the year. Plus you can’t just hunt and fish and gather whenever you want, even on private land there are laws about this sort of thing.