Congressional Delegation Seeks Answers from DOI Regarding Inadequate Funding Allotment for Utah’s Public Lands Projects

Apr 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Blake Moore (R-UT) today wrote to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland requesting an explanation regarding a recent announcement of deferred maintenance awards which allocated Utah a disproportionately low amount of funding compared to its proportion of federal lands and its contribution to the federal government.

The full text of the delegation’s letter is below.

Dear Secretary Haaland,

We write to express our frustration with the recent announcement of funding for public lands and national parks in Utah. The Department of Interior made an investment of $1.6 billion in deferred maintenance funding for critical projects nationwide, yet Utah, with 67 percent federal land ownership, received just $7.3 million. Utah’s project funding award is shockingly low compared to the State’s nearly $81.5 million contributions in federal royalties.     

As you are aware from your recent visit, nearly two-thirds of Utah is public land; its five National Parks and eight National Monuments span more than 2.2 million acres, and its backlog is sizeable at $225 million. The deferred maintenance award hardly reflects the scope of land, need for funding, or contribution to the federal government. Investments in maintenance backlog are necessary across the country, but to put our award in perspective, just 9.25 percent of the Commonwealth of Virginia is public lands, yet it will receive $247.5 million – more than enough to cover our entire state’s backlog.

We request a response explaining the formula used to calculate each state’s award and the extent to which percent of public lands contributed to the award amount. As the nation’s second-highest public lands state by percentile, Utah’s contributions to the federal government and outdoor recreation must more seriously be considered in future deferred maintenance funding allocations.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your prompt response.

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