Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
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.
Interior Announces Nearly $400 Million in PILT Payments to Rural Communities for Police, Fire and Schools
Office of the Secretary
Underscores President's Initiative to Strengthen Rural Communities, Calls on Congress to Extend PILT Program
WASHINGTON, DC - As Part of the Obama Administration's commitment to rural communities, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that about 1,900 local governments around the Nation are receiving a total of $399.8 million under the 2013 Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
The PILT program compensates counties and local governments for non-taxable federal land in their jurisdictions. The 2013 authorized level is $421.7 million, which was reduced by $21.5 million due to sequestration. After administrative expenses, a total of $399.8 million is allocated for payments to counties. A full list of funding by state and county is available at http://www.doi.gov/pilt.
“Rural communities are a pillar of a strong America, contributing significantly to the nation's security, prosperity and economic strength,” Secretary Jewell said. “President Obama has made job creation and opportunity in rural areas a top priority for his Administration and has fought for continuing the PILT program to compensate and support local governments.”
“These PILT payments will help local governments carry out vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search and rescue operations. They will keep essential public employees on the job,” added Jewell. “President Obama has proposed to fully fund the PILT program in FY 2014, and we encourage Congress to take the required action to make sure this important program continues.”
PILT program eligibility is reserved for local governments (mostly rural counties) that contain non-taxable federal lands and provide vital services, such as public safety, housing, social services and transportation. These jurisdictions provide significant support for national parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas throughout the year. PILT seeks to compensate them for their support and foregoing tax revenue from these federal lands.
This year's PILT program is the last to be funded under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141), which reauthorized PILT for 2013 and funded full entitlement levels of the program. From 2008 through 2012, the program was funded under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The President's fiscal year 2014 budget proposes to extend mandatory full funding for the program for another year while a sustainable long-term funding solution is developed for the PILT program.
The Interior Department collects about $14 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.
Using a formula provided by 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 of that county or jurisdiction. The lands include the National Forest and National Park Systems, the areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management, those affected by the U.S. Army 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, prior year Federal Revenue Sharing payments reported yearly by the governor of each state, and population data, which is updated using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Federal Revenue Sharing payments are made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous fiscal year. Payments include those made under the Refuge Revenue Sharing Fund, the National Forest Fund and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, among others.
By statute, the per acre and population variables used in the formula to compute payment amounts are subject to annual inflationary adjustments using the Consumer Price Index. The requirement for annual inflationary adjustments to the per acre and population variables was included in the 1994 amendments to the PILT Act. For purposes of calculating the 2013 payment, the 2012 per acre amounts are adjusted from $2.47 per acre and $0.34 per acre to $2.54 and $0.35 per acre, and the population variables are adjusted from $66.49 - $166.21 to $68.45 - $171.11 per capita.