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State Government

State Government

Background

Figure 1
Figure 1

The state of Nevada has very little autonomy when it comes to managing their own grazing land, as the state only owns 0.2% of the total land in Nevada (Nevada Farm Bureau Federation).See figure 1. The TGA does ensure some of the revenue generated from the management of land in Nevada is returned to the state, as “gross receipts are sent to the U.S. Treasury then redistributed, at the discretion of the Secretary of Treasury, to the states,” (Mead et al. 1995).

The TGA receipts are categorized into two different sections. One section, referred to as Section 3 (Figure 2) , which grants permits, manages approximately 95% of the fiscal yield generated from grazing districts. Twelve and a half percent of that is directly allocated to the state legislature, and they are responsible for dispersing these funds to the counties from which the revenue was generated. Fifty percent of the funds go straight to the grazing districts for construction, maintenance, and range improvements. Finally, 37.5% is retained by the federal government for administrative purposes (Figure #). Section 15, which manages share leases, is responsible for funds that arise from isolated grazing units. Twenty-five percent of the finances are returned to the grazing units but only for range improvements. Fifty percent is administered to the state level and is distributed by the legislature. Twenty-five percent is with held by the US Treasury for administrative purposes (Mead et al. 1995):

“The [Taylor Grazing] Act allows state legislative discretion in the allocation of the 12.5 percent from Section 3 and the 50 percent from Section 15, as long as it is for the benefit of the county from which the revenue was derived. In Nevada, the BLM provides annual payments to the State Controllers Office who distributes income to each grazing district. Grazing Advisory Boards from the districts then spend the money on range improvements and range related activities,” (Mead et al. 1995).

Figure 2
Figure 2

As the TGA suggests, the state has very little influence over Nevada’s grazing rights. Their primary responsibility is administering the small percentage of the funds that are reallocated at the federal level: however, the BLM determines all regulations and requirements.

Federal agencies are restricting the state’s autonomy and limiting potential state growth. “Because federally managed land is exempt from property taxes, the estimated annual impact of this property tax exemption on western lands has been estimated at billions of dollars, placing some fiscal burdens on local government,” (Legislative Counsel Bureau 2014). In 1976 The Public Law 94-565 initiated the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program which is designed to make annual payments to the state government as compensation for the lack of revenue they intake due to federal land in their state.

Policy Recommendation 

Nevada would benefit more from a land transfer than PILT. The Nevada Land Management Task Force published a report that a transfer of federal land to state control would be a significant benefit for the state, saying, “a transfer of 4 million acres of U.S. Bureau Land Management land could bring in anywhere from $31 million to $114 million a year, based on a review of four Western states that have significant amounts of trust lands under their control,” (Whaley 2015).  As stated earlier, not only does the TGA give the Federal Government control of Nevada’s grazing ranges, the Federal Government retains revenue generated from Nevada land management. The money funneled into the federal government is revenue that could better benefit the state of Nevada.

Counter Arguments

Some argue that the Nevada could not afford to manage land transferred from the Federal Government. Taking this into consideration, the state and the Nevada Land Management Task Force suggest a phase-in transfer of the public lands in order for Nevada to effectively implement internal management strategies and regulations. They suggested the transfer of land that has been previously identified for disposal by federal agencies. In total the amount of land suggested for the initiation of the phase-in would be approximately 7.3 million acres. This only makes up 10% of public land in Nevada, thus the majority of public land would still be under control of the Federal Government. Wilderness and National Parks would not be included in any kind transfer (Whaley 2015). There is also concern that Nevada would sell off the land or not enforce the environmental protection of grazing land.

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