sunset view of the arches in Southern Utah

What Are Federal Lands?

Federal lands are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Federal BLM’s mission is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.” The Utah State and Field offices manage public lands to maintain wide open spaces for recreational activities, and keep up campsites and picnic sites in developed areas.

How Much of Utah Is Considered Federal Land?

If you live in Utah, you know how much we love our national parks, outdoor sports, and activities. Most of the areas on which we enjoy these fun activities are considered federal lands or public lands. 

According to the most recent public lands information, Utah is 43.5% federal lands. Of the 52.6 million square miles of land in Utah, 22.9 million square miles are federally managed. The state of Utah comes in second place in the country for the state with the greatest percentage of federal lands to total land. 

Federal policy stipulates states receive financial compensation, called Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), proportional to the amount of state land managed by the BLM. This is because states would otherwise be able to tax owners of that land. PILT’s provide financial incentives for states to maintain lands through the BLM. 

Why Do We Have Protected Federal Lands?

Reserving public lands is beneficial to state citizens and visiting recreationists for the following reasons:

Recreation and Tourism

Public lands provide excellent areas for outdoor recreation including hiking, mountain biking, photography, wildlife identification, backpacking, camping, and fishing. Utah National Parks like Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion are important draws for Utah residents and recreational tourists. 


Not only do Utahns enjoy having National Parks in their backyard, but they also benefit from public lands’ positive influence on the economy. Recreation and tourism represent a significant portion of Utah’s economy. Public lands attract talent, investment, and business to the Utah area and provide economic benefits for those living in the area. The federal PILT policy ensures that Utah does not lose out on state revenue from taxes, securing greater economic benefit from holding public lands. 

Natural Beauty

Scenic national parks, wildlife refuge areas, and nature reserves provide beautiful areas for people to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Reserving these areas for federal land management ensures that they stay beautiful and enjoyable for others and for future generations of outdoor recreationists. 

Federal lands managed by the BLM, are a beautiful and significant asset to our state. From recreational adventure to improved economy to breathtaking landscapes, Utah’s federally managed public lands make living in Utah truly wonderful.