Utah Congressman Ken Ivory gave a presentation at the July 25 Fourth Thursday Issues Forum in Montrose on how reclaiming public lands from the federal government will give counties more taxable land and increase property tax funding for public schools. Rep. Ivory (R-Utah) is president of the American Lands Council, an organization dedicated to gaining local control over state lands, especially in the Western states, where the majority of the land is controlled by the federal government. He made a brief stop in Montrose during a speaking and fact-finding trip.
Montrose County has nearly 70 per cent of its land locked up as public lands. Recently, the Montrose Library has had to close on Saturdays and implement other budget cuts because of a sharp decrease in revenues from county property taxes. The Montrose School District is also considering a request for either a sales tax or a property tax increase n order to meet budget needs.
Rep. Ivory explained that through the years, Eastern states have insisted that the federal government transfer title of public lands to their control. Most of the Western states, with the exception of Hawaii, still have much if not most of their lands under the control of various federal agencies. Each state's Enabling Act, which allowed territories to join the union, established terms for the transfer of public lands to the newly created state. However, in 1976, Congress declared via the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) that it was now policy to retain state public lands in federal ownership. This Act was declared policy without ever coming to a vote.
For more information about the American Lands Council, visit the website or call 801.ALC.6622.