Land Use

The management and use of land for agricultural, industrial, recreational, residential, or other purposes.

Related resource topics for county planning include the following:


Map of Data

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The ESRI mxd file of the services used to create the above map.

Resource Information
The Mountainlands regions comprises more than 3.3 million acres of urban, rural, and mountainous lands in the heart of Utah. Nearly half of this land is owned and managed by the federal government, primarily by the US Forest Service (USFS) and US Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Approximately 44% of the land area is under private ownership. Of the remaining lands, 9% is state lands, either as Sovereign Lands (Utah Lake), State Parks, or State Institutional Trust Lands (SITLA). A very small portion is owned by the Utah Ouray Tribal Government [1].

The following table summarizes landownership by general owner category in acreage and percentage of total county acreage [1].
Land OwnerSummitUtahWasatchTotal
The following table summarizes land ownership acreage by agency and county [1].
Land OwnerSummitUtahWasatchTotal
Bureau of Land Management744103,2741,891105,909
Bureau of Reclamation1,89501912,086
Military Reserves and Corps of Engineers2415,642015,666
National Forest366,799447,957433,3141,248,071
National Forest Wilderness161,86438,5670200,431
National Parks, Monuments and Historic Sites02540254
Other State1828212259
State Parks and Recreation1,86013331,17833,172
State Sovereign Land095,508095,508
State Trust Lands8,60845,68015,94870,236
State Wildlife Reserve & Management Area17,63344,41039,706101,748
Tribal Lands003,1643,164

Private Property

Private lands are regulated by land use ordinances and zoning districts, as approved by local and county governments. Zoning districts, and the regulations established within the zoning districts, are authorized by Utah State Code 17-27a-505 and municipalities 10-9a-505. Land use ordinance and zoning maps are legislative decisions and established through planning processes open to public discussion and adopted by county and city councils [2].

Applicable County Land Use Plans:

US Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Utah County is the only county in the MAG region with BLM lands. Utah County BLM lands are managed by BLM Field Office in Salt Lake City. Decisions for all BLM lands are made according to mandates spelled out in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976. FLPMA requires the BLM to manage lands under multiple-use philosophy [3]. A component of FLPMA is the requirement for an open and public land use planning process in the development of resource management plans (RMP). Each BLM Field Office must develop a RMP to guide future land use activities on public lands. The RMP defines goals, objectives, and rules for commercial and extractives industries, transportation, recreation, and conservation. To complete a RMP, the BLM follows planning procedures spelled out in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). BLM also has management authority over various isolated tracts of land in Utah that were not included in land and resource management plans. In some cases, BLM seeks to transfer these lands out of federal ownership.

Applicable BLM resource management plans:


US Forest Service (USFS)

US Forest Service management in the MAG region is complicated as three different National Forests provide management oversight of the forest lands. Furthermore, these three Forests are divided into seven Ranger Districts (see table below), all of which cross county boundaries.

CountyNational ForestRanger District
Mountain View-Evanston
UtahUinta-Wasatch-CacheSpanish Fork
Pleasant Grove
UtahManti-La SalFerron-Price
Spanish Fork

The US Forest Service (USFS) manages land use decisions by developing forest plans under the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-588). The most current guidance for implementing the Act is the 2012 Planning Rule; this timeline provides a history of the USFS planning process. Forest plans also require consideration of alternatives and public input under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. This provides an open planning process to assist land managers in understanding stakeholders’ desires for various land uses as well as identifying potential impacts of those uses.

Applicable National Forest planning documents:

National Parks, Monuments, and Recreation Areas

The National Park Service (NPS) manages the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Unlike lands managed by the BLM and USFS, these lands are managed by NPS exclusively to protect and preserve the natural and cultural resources within their boundaries. These lands are bound by Federal Statute (36 CFR Chapter 1-7).

Other Federal Lands

  • Department of Defense – Camp Williams, Utah National Guard in Utah County is approximately 16,000 acres. The Army Corps of Engineers also owns a small parcel of land in Summit County near Park City.
  • Bureau of Reclamation – owns approximately 2,000 acres near Dardanelles Reservoir.

Utah Department of Natural Resources (UDNR)

The UDNR is responsible for about 229,065 acres of land as state parks, wildlife reserves/management areas, and state sovereign lands. State parks are managed by the UDNR State Parks Office, wildlife areas are managed by the Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and state sovereign lands are managed under the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands (FFSL). In general, state parks and wildlife areas are managed primarily for resource protection and recreation. State sovereign lands are managed for a variety of objectives and include Utah Lake below the ordinary high water mark.

State Park acreage summary for the MAG region [1].
(1,860 ac)
Camp Floyd
(41 ac)
Deer Creek
(4,466 ac)
(90 ac)
(5,810 ac)
Stagecoach Inn
(3 ac)
Wasatch Mountain
(20,901 ac)
State Wildlife Area acreage summary for the MAG region [1].
East Canyon
(259 ac)
(999 ac)
Loafer Mountain
(12,346 ac)
(2.626 ac)
Henefer - Echo
(14,667 ac)
Dairy Fork
(5,066 ac)
(1,820 ac)
Currant Creek
(20,380 ac)
Hixon Canyon
(1,418 ac)
Goshen Warm Springs
(999 ac)
Spencer Park
(6,867 ac)
(3,207 ac)
(14,360 ac)
Hobble Creek
(532 ac)
(8,089 ac)
(11,661 ac)
Lake Fort
(2,765 ac)
(2,349 ac)
Lasson Draw
(2,882 ac)
West Hills
(189 ac)

Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA)

There are 70,236 acres of SITLA trust lands distributed across the MAG area. SITLA is directed by Utah Administrative Code to maximize commercial gain from these properties through sale, lease, or exchange. These transactions occur through sales and leases of individual properties but also through large-scale land and mineral right consolidations.

SITLA acreage summary by county [1].

Other State Lands

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) owns 259 acres of land in the region. These lands are related to right-of-ways purchased along state highways.

Tribal Lands

Tribal lands are sovereign lands not subject to local or state governments. However, tribal governments must be consulted during planning processes involving lands with historical Native American uses.

Ute Indian Tribe Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Wasatch County, 3,164 acres.


Broadband internet is a vital resource connecting local residents and businesses to the rest of the world. Fortunately, Utah is among the best connected states in the United States, ranking 5 in terms of average internet speed at 18.9 Mbps and average peak speed of 78.9 Mbps. [4]. The State of Utah Broadband Outreach Center provides maps of current residential and commercial broadband availability:

Residential Broadband Map

Commercial Broadband Map


Percent of Population using wireline (download >25 Mbps)84.1%95.5%79.3%
Percent of Population using wireline (download >100 Mbps)69.7%93%69.9%
Percent of Population using wireline (download >1Gbps)0.3%61.6%0%
Percent of Population using wireless (download > 25Mbps)82.6%98.4%69.1%
Percent of Population using DSL85.7%96.1%89.1%
Percent of Population using Fiber42.2%64.7%0%
Percent of Population using wireless99.9%100%100%
# wireline Internet providers (% population)1 (32.1%)
2 (14.4%)
3+ (50.2%)
2 (55.2%)
3 (12.5%)
4+ (53.8 %)
1 (25.4)
2 (55.2%)
3 (12.5%)
# wireless internet providers (% population)5 (14.5%)
6 (21.2%)
7 (51.0 %)
6 (21.2%)
7 (17.2%)
8+ (60.5 %)
6 (25.1%)
7 (68.8 %)
*Data as of June 30, 2014 from

Best Management Practices

Appropriate and allowable uses for lands are defined through planning processes specific to the agency or government which has jurisdiction over the lands. For most private, Federal and State lands, land use decisions are made through systematic planning processes. The best land use decisions are made through planning processes which include open public participation and take into consideration potential impacts to the social, economic, and natural environment. Though this is not always the case for some Federal and State properties which are managed for specific purposes, such as for lands owned or managed by Utah’s State and Institutional Trust Lands, tribal governments, and military lands.

Best management practices (BMPs) related to local, state, and federal land use decisions generally focus on getting involved with planning processes early and often. For BLM and USFS lands, planning documents are required to be developed with the input of local communities. And although federal agencies must also follow federal statutes and consider comments from other stakeholders, the more prepared local communities can be to assert their objectives for public lands, the better off they will be.

Economic Considerations

“Land use” is not a resource in the same sense as most other resources to be considered in county resource management plans. In this case, land use is the designated, preferred, or allowable uses of a given piece of land based on the planning preferences of the landowner or jurisdiction responsible for the land. The implementation and management of those uses, such as for agriculture, wildlife, motorized recreation, wilderness, etc., are examined and discussed in their own respective resource planning sections.

Nearly half of the MAG region is federally owned and as such does not provide property tax income for the counties. Property taxes are a fundamental source of revenues from which communities pay for services to their citizens, such as police and fire protection, schools, and road maintenance. To offset the income from property taxes, a federal program termed “Payments in Lieu of Taxes” (PILT) provides an alternative source of income to counties with large amounts of federal lands [5]. Based on Chapter 69, Title 31 of the United States Code, the federal government returns some of the money collected from grazing fees, oil & gas leases, and other sources to states and counties. PILT is distributed based on a formula that accounts for the amount of federal land within a county, its population, and receipt-sharing payments [6]  [7].

U.S. Department of Interior PILT to MAG counties, 2012-2016 [7].

The Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office commissioned an extensive study evaluating the potential cost-benefit of A Transfer of Federal Lands to the State of Utah [8]. At the heart of the evaluation is an assessment of whether sufficient revenues could be generated by State management of these lands to offset the costs incurred by management. Regardless of cost, counties would welcome more influence over land use decisions made on these lands.

Impact Considerations

The type of land use determines possible impacts. Use the various data layers to identify the existing use of land. Combine layers to identify competing or conflicting uses.

  • Surface Land Ownership. A comprehensive surface land ownership layer maintained by SITLA. Use this data to determine land management agency or jurisdiction responsible for land use decisions for specific locations.
  • Water Related Land Use. Comprehensive land use delineation for urban and agricultural areas of Utah. This data is primarily useful to quantify land use types within urban and agricultural areas and to track changes over time.
  • BLM RMP Data. These layers delineate the BLM’s Record of Decision for lands managed by the three local field offices. Use this data to determine how the BLM intends to manage the lands within its jurisdiction. See table below for specific layers included in the map.
  • Wilderness, Roadless Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Use these layers to determine areas of the county either designated as wilderness, have wilderness characteristics, or critical environmental concerns.
  • OHV data, Recreation Management Areas, Trails use to identify areas with recreational land uses.
  • Grazing Data. Use to identify areas of the county that are being grazed.

BLM Visual Resource Management. Use to understand BLM’s visual management object for an area (Visual classes).

Data Download
  GIS Data Map Service Web Map Document  Tabular Data  Website
Data NameData ExplanationPublication DateSpatial AccuracyContact
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern which require special management attention to protect  areas of significant valuesJanuary 20101:24,000Bureau of Land Management in Utah
National Landscape Conservation System contains wilderness areas, wilderness study areas and national conservation areas3/21/20141:24,000Bureau of Land Management in Utah
Land Ownership
Surface Land Ownership; use Admin field to identify administrative agencyUpdated Weekly1:24,000State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).
GIS Group
National Conservation Easement Database
Conservation EasementsOctober 2015Unknown NCED National Conservation Easement Database
National Wild and Scenic River System
River segments from USFS, BLM, FWS, and NPS20091:24,000National Atlas of the United States
USFS Land Status Record System
US Forest Service Land Status Record System for Lands under Forest Service ManagementLive DataVariousUSDA Forest Service
Lands and Realty Management
USFS Roadless Areas (2001)
2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule (36 CFR 294, Subpart B)7/21/20001:100,000USDA Forest Service
Water-Related Land Use
Layer depicts the types and extent of irrigated crops, as well as information concerning phreatophytes, wet/open water areas, dry land agriculture and residential/industrial areas. The primary business driver for this dataset is for constructing and analyzing the state’s annual water budget.
More Information
20151:24,000Utah Division of Water Resources
Utah Residential Broadband Map: ,
Confirmed Tower Locations
Broadband data for the State of UtahJune 2016VariousState of Utah Broadband Outreach Center


  1. SITLA. 2016. Land Ownership. GIS data obtained July 28, 2016.
  2. Call, Craig M. 2005. A Utah Citizen’s Guide to Land Use Regulation How It Works and How to Work It. Salt Lake City: State of Utah Department of Natural Resources.
  3. US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management Office of Public Affairs. 2001. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended.
  4. Akamai. 2016. Akamai’s [State of the Internet], Q2 2016 Report. Volume 9/ Number 2.
  5. Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. Demographic and Economic Analysis Section. Federal Land Payments in Utah. By Lynne N. Ward. Salt Lake City, UT, 2000.
  6. Headwaters Economics, Inc. 2015. County Payments: History, Context, and Policy. Accessed February 06, 2016.
  7. Payments in Lieu of Taxes.” US Department of the Interior. 2015. Accessed April 30, 2016.
  8. University of Utah, Bureau of Economic and Business Research. 2014. An Analysis of a Transfer of Federal Lands to the State of Utah. A report prepared for the Utah Governor’s Public Lands Policy Coordination Office.