POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah leaders upset over recent national parks funding

Apr 23, 2021, 11:05 AM

National Park week, arches national park is pictured...

Arches National Park is among Utah's Mighty 5. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utah’s congressional delegation is frustrated over a lack of funding for the state’s five national parks and eight national monuments.

Utah national parks looking for more funding

The group sent a letter Thursday to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Led by Senator Mitt Romney, they highlighted that Utah has received just over $7 million for projects on Bureau of Land Management land.

Utah leaders say that figure is shockingly low when compared to other states.

In the letter, they pointed out that the Commonwealth of Virginia is set to receive over $247 million, despite the fact that public land in Virginia makes up less than 10% of their boundaries. In Utah, about 67% of land is in federal ownership.

“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,” the letter reads. “As the nation’s second highest public lands state by percentile, Utah’s contribution to the federal government and outdoor recreation must more seriously be considered in future deferred maintenance funding allocations.”

The frustration comes after the Interior Department announced earlier this month that it would distribute $1.6 billion for public lands nationwide.

Western Energy Alliance voicing frustration 

The funding slight has also been raised by the Western Energy Alliance, which represents independent oil and gas producers in Utah and other western states.

The alliance’s president, Kathleen Sgamma, says the lack of funding is disrespectful, considering Utah ranks fourth in the nation for natural gas production and fifth in oil production from public lands.

Additionally, President Joe Biden has already put into place a ban for any new natural gas or oil leases to be awarded. In response to that, Utah has joined 12 other states in a lawsuit over the ban. Wyoming and the Western Alliance already brought suit earlier. 

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Utah leaders upset over recent national parks funding