Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Funding for farmland preservation has been cut off
Statewide » Fund has helped Red Butte Garden, Ogden Parkway, Chalk Creek.
First Published Mar 18 2011 05:18 pm • Last Updated Mar 18 2011 11:30 pm

Utah lawmakers have cut off all financing to a fund that preserves working farms and ranches — knocking out the state’s only source that qualifies for federal conservation monies.

The LeRay McAlister Fund has preserved about 80,000 acres of land, most of it agricultural as well as recreational and archaeological sites. Over the past 10 years, the state pitched in $20 million that was matched by $110 million from the federal government and other sources.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It was a blow, but we do have $500,000 to fund our existing projects," said John Bennett, executive director of the Utah Quality Growth Commission, which administers the fund.

Bennett is hopeful that the Legislature will be able to restore funding next year, but if not, "we could be out of business."

Mike Mower, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, said he recognizes lawmakers had difficulty in balancing the budget, and with the $500,000 in the McAllister Fund "it looked like something that could be cut. We’re optimistic about future funding."

The McAllister Fund has an up-and-down history of state financing. In 2006, lawmakers cobbled together $1 million for the fund, despite a record $1 billion budget surplus.

Mower said with the tight economy, the fund could have helped struggling farmers and ranchers wanting to sell development rights to their lands "so it was a disappointment that we don’t have the funding to do it."

The voluntary program pays farmers for development rights and puts a conservation easement on their land. Farmers and ranchers keep the land in production, but when it’s sold it cannot be developed. The land would remain agricultural.

Officials say that every $4 in land farmers ask to be placed under an easement, only $1 is available to purchase it.

The need to preserve working farms and ranches is critical, officials say.


story continues below
story continues below

Utah Agriculture Commissioner Leonard Blackham has said that Utah lost 500,000 acres of productive agricultural lands this decade alone. And during the past 40 years, Utah lost farm and rangelands equaling the combined size of Delaware and Rhode Island.

Although the McAllister Fund is known for preserving agricultural lands, it also has helped finance other projects that allow for multiple use of the property. This includes Red Butte Garden and Arboretum in Salt Lake City, the Ogden City Parkway and the Chalk Creek Restoration Project in Summit County.

The fund also helped in the preservation of historic Wilcox Ranch in Range Creek Canyon, about 30 miles southeast of Price. Known for its remote and rugged landscape,

Range Creek is valued by researchers nationwide for its unique prehistoric Fremont archaeological sites. Exhibits from the 1,000-year-old Fremont culture are on display at the U. of U.’s Museum of Natural History.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.