PAYMENT • Jason Vernon, DWR Regional Supervisor, presents the annual PILT payment to Marty Palmer, county commissioner.
Jason Vernon, Regional Supervisor for Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), presented Marty Palmer, Juab County Commission Chairman, with the annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILT).
Commissioners met in Levan in the Levan City Council meeting room as part of their decision to take commission meetings to constituents.
Mark Farmer, Habitat Program Manager at Utah DWR, also addressed the commission.
“This year,” said Vernon, “the check is for $5,707.84. We also have a letter from the director.”
PILT funds are Federal payments that help local governments offset losses in property taxes due to the existence of nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries. The original law is Public Law 94–565, dated October 20, 1976. This law was rewritten and amended by Public Law 97–258 on September 13, 1982 and codified at Chapter 69, Title 31 of the United States Code.
“PILT payments help local governments carry out such vital services as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations,” said Vernon.
The DWR, he said, is working to improve angler access and is working on projects to research eagle, deer and elk in the mountains.
“We do see movement under I-15 on the underpasses,” said Vernon. “They use the underpasses more on the north end of the county.”
PILT payments are made annually for tax-exempt Federal lands administered by Department of the Interior agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation. In addition, PILT payments cover Federal lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission.
PILT payments are one of the ways the Federal Government can fulfill its role of being a good neighbor to local communities.
The Interior’s Office of the Secretary has administrative authority over the PILT program. In addition to other responsibilities, the Department calculates payments according to the formulas established by law and distributes the available funds.
Funding for the PILT program is continued at the 2023 rate through March 8, 2024, under the Further Additional Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024 (P.L. 118-35). The Department has issued the annual request for prior year payment data to State Governors and working-level points of contact.
Palmer asked about the moose he had seen in Salt Creek Canyon.
“We have been transporting animals to Mt. Nebo,” said Vernon. “We moved four off of I-80 and put them on Nebo Loop.
Clinton Painter, commissioner, said they had reports of some sightings.
“They have collars on them to track them,” said Vernon. “Their diets differ a bit from elk so there is not a lot of competition for food.”
He said that they had dropped off three bulls and one cow moose. They would drop off sport animals on Mt. Nebo when they were interfering with traffic in urban areas.
Painter said he had been on a group that worked with DWR and found it to be rewarding.
He wondered, if at some point the state would get a raise in PILT funding.
John Crippen, county administrator, said that the county received the exact same amount last year--$5,707.84. In fact, the payment amount had been the same for several years.
Farmer told commissioners that they had been working on a study to be published that dealt with habitat for deer and elk. It was not yet in its final draft but, when it had been presented to the habitat council and to the RAC (Resource Advisory Council) before it is in final draft.
The Utah RAC is an advisory panel which provides advice and recommendations on land use planning and management of public lands.
“The management plan shows the properties and the approved roads,” said Farmer. “We don’t close county roads.”
He said that public comments were due by the end of March.
Several hunting groups had partnered with DWR, he said. They did want wild turkey in more areas in Juab County.
Vernon said that the DWR was trapping turkeys and trying to establish them in other places in the county. Levan was one target. Along the Mona Bench and up North Canyon were others.
“This is great weather for turkeys,” said Farmer. “The snow is high and the rain is in the low areas. There should be a lot of poults this spring.”
Painter said that he had counted only 20 deer and now fawns on a recent trip to Mt. Nebo.
Farmer said they were doing a lot of habitat restoration which would help. The water this spring should enhance that. A low population encourages predators.
The DWR was placing guzzlers to help with the water concerns. A guzzler is a term used to describe self-filling, constructed watering facilities that collect, store and make water available for wildlife.
“Nebo is a positive population,” said Farmer.
Doug Anderson, Juab County Sheriff, said that there was Wild Russian Olive, not a desired non-native plant, in the West Desert.
They use more water and the only way to get rid of them is to chop them down and poison the roots, said Farmer. However, they do grow in the West Desert and do offer some cover for deer.
“They are better than nothing,” he said.
“We are going to eliminate the rope swings at Burraston Ponds,” he said.
They cause of lot of problems and draw groups of people who make the area unsafe. The plan is to chop the limbs of trees back so that they will not hang over water.
Palmer said he had complaints about cattle being at the ponds.
“We graze them in January to get rid of excess undergrowth,” said Farmer. “We do want grass for pheasants.”
Vernon said that grazing was done only every couple of years and that it eliminated the fire hazard.