06-29-20 U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Bernhardt Announces $41.7M in Payments to Colorado to Support Vital Services in Communities

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Bernhardt Announces $41.7 Million in Payments to Colorado to Support Vital Services in Communities

PILT Program Compensates Communities for Supporting Nation’s Public Lands and Waters; Invests in Firefighters, Police, School and Road Construction

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt today announced that 56 local governments in Colorado are receiving a total of $41.7 million under the 2020 Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. A full list of funding by State and county is available at www.doi.gov/pilt.

“This year’s distribution of $514.7 million to more than 1,900 counties will help small towns pay for critical needs like emergency response, public safety, public schools, housing, social services, and infrastructure,” said Secretary Bernhardt. 

PILT program eligibility is reserved for local governments that contain nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries.  These jurisdictions provide significant support for national parks, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas throughout the year.  PILT seeks to compensate local governments for the inability to collect property taxes on Federally owned land.

Using a statutory formula, the annual PILT payments to local governments are computed based on the number of acres of Federal land within each county or jurisdiction and on the population of that county or jurisdiction. The lands include the national forest and national park systems; lands in the FWS Refuge System; areas managed by the BLM and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, respectively; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation water resource development projects; and others.

Since PILT payments began in 1977, Interior has distributed over $9.7 billion dollars to States and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

The Department collects more than $13.2 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing, and timber harvesting.  A portion of these revenues is shared with States and counties.  The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of Federal activities, including PILT funding.

Individual county payments may vary from year to year as a result of changes in acreage data, which is updated yearly by the Federal agency administering the land; prior-year Federal Revenue Sharing payments reported yearly by the Governor of each State; and population data, which is updated using information from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Federal Revenue Sharing payments are made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous fiscal year, including payments such as those made under the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, the Refuge Revenue Sharing Fund, the National Forest Fund, the Taylor Grazing Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the Federal Power Act, and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, as authorized.

Under the law, local officials retain the authority to allocate these funds. However, as President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence,” highlighted, “[o]ver the last 5 weeks, there has been a sustained assault on the life and property of civilians, law enforcement officers, government property, and revered American monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial.” Much of this destruction is taking place on historic landmarks that populate the very lands that are receiving PILT payments. These symbols of American exceptionalism greatly contribute to the value of the public lands the Department maintains.

Like other monuments and landmarks, these pieces represent unique aspects of our storied history. Their cultural and economic contributions to local residents and institutions is undeniable and should be protected. Consistent with the Executive Order and applicable law, “it is the policy of the United States, to withhold Federal support tied to public spaces from State and local governments that have failed to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues from destruction or vandalism.” Any recipient of funding pursuant to this program agrees they will enforce the rule of law and defend these important public monuments, memorials, and statues.

US Department of Interior

About the U.S. Department of Interior

The Department of the Interior conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.