"As a kid who grew up in northwest Montana and whose sons graduated from the same high school as I did, I know how important PILT payments are to local communities that have federal lands", Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who was Montana's congressman before President Donald Trump appointed him to his current job, said in a statement.
According to the Department of the Interior, which administers the PILT program, annual PILT payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county and the population of that county.
PILT is a 40-year-old federal program providing money to local county governments.
$37 million in so-called PILT payments for the 2017 fiscal year in the state.
PILT provides federal payments to local governments because of nontaxable federal land within their boundaries, such as Bureau of Land Management land, national parks and forests. "PILT investments often serve as critical support for local communities as they juggle planning and paying for basic services, such as public safety, firefighting, social services and transportation".
The Interior Department collects more than $8.8 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on public lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting.
The combined acreage of federal lands in Mesa County is third in Colorado behind only Moffat County with almost 1.7 million acres and Gunnison County with more than 1.6 million acres.
Montana counties will get nearly $32 million in 2017 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding, according to Senator Jon Tester.
The Mat-Su Borough and Kenai Peninsula Borough will receive the largest funding amounts with both getting more than $3 million each from the federal government. "I am glad we were successful in securing funding for this year's payments, but we still need permanent funding for PILT to give counties in New Mexico more long term predictability".