Utah Public Lands

Utah Public Lands

About 70% of Utah’s land mass continues to be owned and controlled by the federal government.  We are blessed to have some of the most breathtaking landscapes, vistas and natural wonders of any place on earth—with much of that unparalleled beauty located on federal public lands in our state. These lands also offer world class recreation opportunities for our citizens.  And it is no secret that Utah’s public lands are also home to abundant mineral, oil and natural gas reserves and they also provide excellent habitat to our ranchers for grazing livestock.  Working to find the right balance for all these competing uses for our public lands is a challenge but it can best be met when it includes some level of local control.

I support petitioning U.S. Congress to reevaluate and revise how Utah’s counties are reimbursed for lost property tax revenues on lands owned by the Federal government. These payments from the federal government  known as “Payments in Lieu of Taxes” or PILT have not kept pace with rising land values in our state. Hence, we have some counties who are severely underfunded because of the number of federal lands that do not bring in tax revenue and the PILT payments are significantly less than what would be collected if these lands were held in private ownership.

I also support a joint management model that would provide for joint management by both the state and federal government over federal owned lands.  That model would include the ability of Utah to receive a portion of the royalties paid by those utilizing public lands for mineral, oil and gas development and livestock grazing to help sustain our rural counties. This kind of joint management model could also help address Utah’s wild horse population. Until Utah has sufficient control over its own public lands or is paid appropriately by the federal government for this land (through the PILT program), Utah and our rural counties are at a significant disadvantage. I would appreciate hearing from you on this issue and any other that you feel strongly about.