Why are there homesteads on BLM land?
The Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937 authorized the government to purchase low production, privately owned farmlands. These marginal farmlands were unable to support farm families. The acquired lands were retired from agricultural production and are now managed by the BLM. Many settlers sold out to the Federal government in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Under Bankhead-Jones, the Federal government paid the landowner for the land and improvements. However, following the sale, the government encouraged the former landowner to remove improvements. For this reason, many homesteads and outbuildings were dismantled and moved. (Gretchen Obenauf, Rio Puerco Field Office)
The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 provided for the regulation of grazing on public land for the first time. It also allowed for land exchanges to establish grazing districts. More land passed out of federal ownership under this Act than in. Still, some homesteads did return to Public Domain this way.
The BLM still has an active program of land exchanges when it is determined that it will serve the public interest. Sometimes this is done to consolidate public lands and dispose of isolated parcels that are difficult to manage. Sometimes it is done in order to meet the needs of states and communities for community expansion, recreation areas, and for economic development. In some cases the lands acquired by the BLM include the remains of homesteads.