One reason it's a serious problem is for reasons of simple recreation. Public lands are just that: public. You can go into them to drive, walk, hike, backpack, camp, hunt, fish, swim, climb, boat, canoe, kayak, rappel, etc. and etc. and etc. Because so much the eastern USA was claimed by land barons and raped long ago, there's not that much public property here. Most of our land is loused up in the form of residential, industrial, and retail uses. There's just not a big bank of public parkland here on our side of the continent.
Here's a case in point as to what can, and likely will, happen when unusual natural features are left in the hands of private owners:
In 2008 I posted about a hike I made to bag a summit called Little Pisgah Mountain not far from Lake Lure. It's an unusually pretty mountain with some really wonderful views from the peak, despite the fact that there are the seemingly requisite radio and microwave towers fucking up the top of it. In addition, one had to road-hike through many parcels of private property to get there, but public access had been grudgingly allowed by land owners. Now, however, for whatever reasons, those same god damned land owners have now restricted access to Little Pisgah Mountain.
Of course this is their right. But it shouldn't be so. Maybe some of them tired of seeing hikers trudging to the tops of their mountain. Maybe some of them got sick of having the road blocked by such people leaving their cars beside the road while they made the trek to the views. This may all be true.
However, since this mountain is such a nice place, and is covered more in forest land than not, it would be best if the Federal and/or state government declared eminent domain and just took the land from these greedy, self-centered motherfuckers. I don't really care if they were paid a fair-market price, or if the government just took it from them and kicked their sorry asses off and turned it into a state or federal park.
Oops! This view now only for the privileged!This is the kind of thing that sickens me and it's past time that land like this was removed from private hands and put permanently into public ownership. Eminent domain: Let's have it!
Here are posts that I did for Little Pisgah Mountain back when public access was allowed, and when I was able to hike to the summit. Alas, those days are no more.