BY ALEX SHASHKEVICH
To this day the U.S. government owns almost half of the land in the American West.
That level of control has been debated ever since the government began acquiring the areas in the 19th century, with some Westerners resenting the vastness of the federal authority, which amounts to 47 percent of land in 11 states. Some states, like Nevada, where the government owns 84.5 percent of the land, see more control than others.
But few know about the existence and history of revenue-sharing programs, with some dating to 1906, through which the federal government has been compensating states and counties for lost tax revenue on the lands it controls.
Now, thanks to historian Joseph “Jay” Taylor’s research and a team at Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), the history and geography of those programs are presented in Follow the Money: A Spatial History of In-Lieu Programs for Western Federal Lands, an interactive website that maps federal payments made to counties and states in the American West over the past 100 years.
The Society of American Foresters Government Affairs and External Relations Team works with policymakers, partner organizations, and key coalitions to provide a unified voice for sustainable forest management and forestry and natural resources professionals. Documents related to the team’s work are posted on SAF’s website for both members and the general public.
Recently, SAF submitted a letter to Senate Committees and Energy Bill Conferees on wildfire funding and forest management. Over 50 percent of the US Forest Service budget goes toward putting out fires, literally. Solving the wildfire funding issue will be a long and arduous process. Since the overall budget has remained flat, rising costs mean all Forest Service programs suffer, including research and development and on-the-ground work to improve forest health, productivity, and resilience. The letter urges Senate committee members and energy bill conferees to work toward a solution to this situation.
Source: Advocacy & Outreach