Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
Local Governments to Receive $375 Million to Compensate for Tax-Exempt Federal Lands
Office of the Secretary
2011 Payments to Counties Largest Amount Ever Appropriated
WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that more than 1,850 local governments around the nation will receive payments totaling $375.2 million under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program this year to compensate them for non-taxable federal land in their jurisdictions.
“During these challenging fiscal times, these payments will help local communities across the nation continue to fund essential services, such as firefighting and emergency response programs, and allow for additional improvements to school, road and water systems ,” Salazar said in announcing the allocations. “These communities provide significant support for federal lands throughout the year and PILT funding seeks to compensate them for the foregone revenue from these lands.”
The Interior Department collects about $13 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on federal lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. A portion of these revenues are shared with states and counties in the form of revenue-sharing payments. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for a broad array of federal activities, including PILT funding to counties.
Payment eligibility is reserved for local governments (usually counties) that contain nontaxable federal lands and provide vital government services, such as public safety, housing, social services, transportation and the environment.
This year's PILT program is funded at full entitlement levels under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which enacted a five-year authorization for full funding of the PILT program.
Using a formula provided in statute, the annual PILT payments to local governments are computed based on the number of acres of federal entitlement land within each county or jurisdiction and the population within that county or jurisdiction. The lands include the National Forest and National Park Systems, those managed by the Bureau of Land Management, those affected by Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water resource development projects, and others.
Individual county payments may vary from the prior year as a result of changes in acreage data, which is updated yearly by the federal agency administering the land, and population data, which is updated using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
For purposes of calculating the 2011 payment, the per acre amounts are adjusted for inflation from the 2010 payment of $2.40 per acre and thirty-three cents per acre to $2.42 and thirty-three cents per acre, and the population variables are adjusted from $64.56 - $161.38 to $65.20 - $162.98 per capita. The 2011 authorized level is $375.6 million. This includes $400,000 for program administration and $375.2 million for payments to counties
The computation also adjusts the payment for the level of prior-year revenue payments and the amount that a county receives under Sections 6904 and 6905 of the PILT Act. Revenue payments are federal payments made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous year. These include those made under 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. Sections 6904 and 6905 provide additional payments for additions to the National Park System and National Forest Wilderness areas.
As a result of increases in Forest Service timber payments, reductions in PILT entitlement land, expiration of section 6904/5 payments and payments falling below the $100 threshold, the total 2011 PILT payments to the following three states and one territory will be lower than their 2010 payment: Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, and Puerto Rico.