The Secretary of the Interior is trying to persuade Republicans in Congress not to eliminate funding for a land conservation program by linking it to another they typically support.
Secretary Sally Jewell held a conference call with reporters to point out the economic activity linked to tourism, energy production and other activities on public land. She put it at more than 13-billion dollars, well above the total budget of 11-point-9 billion for the whole department.
Rural counties in Utah will get less money this year from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, or PILT. The federal government provides the funding to counties with large areas of public land. Garfield County has more than two million acres of federal land, but this year it will get just over $800,000 dollars from the PILT program.
County Commissioner Leland Pollock says providing services on federal land is a burden on local taxpayers.
Counties across Utah are getting more than $36 million from the federal government this year under the Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILT program. The money is meant to help counties provide services such as search and rescue and firefighting in areas where there's a lot of federal land.