Approximately 67% of the land within Garfield County is federally owned and rich with natural gas, coal, and other mineral deposits. Historically, the federal government has awarded mineral leases on these lands to ensure the natural resources are produced responsibly. Nearly 100 years ago, the U.S. Congress passed the Mineral Lands Leasing Act, which among other things, recognized that mineral leasing activities on federal lands had a local impact. Congress, therefore, determined impacted local communities were entitled to a share of the royalties generated by these leasing activities.
Federal mineral lease payments are distributed first to the State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), who in turn, distributes payments to the counties, municipalities, and federal mineral lease districts within the State impacted by federal mineral leasing activity.
The Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District (“the District”) is an independent public body politic and corporate formed pursuant to the Colorado Federal Mineral Lease District Act, C.R.S., § 30-20-1301 et seq, (2011) and as amended by Colorado SB 12-31.
The General Assembly has defined the District as a public instrumentality performing an essential public function, namely, the alleviation of social, economic, and public finance impacts on communities resulting from the development of natural resources on federal lands. In carrying out these responsibilities, the District acts in accordance with the federal Mineral Lands Leasing Act of February 25, 1920, as amended, and all applicable state laws.
The District is authorized by statute to distribute funds and provide services to communities impacted by the development of natural resources on federal lands within Garfield County. The District cannot levy or collect taxes and does not have the power of eminent domain.
Federal law limits how lease payments distributed to the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District can be used. The distribution may only be used by the state, or its political subdivisions, for (1) planning, (2) construction and maintenance of public facilities, or (3) provision of public services. See 30 U.S.C. §191.
The District accomplishes its mission through semi-annual grant cycles (Spring and Fall) focusing on two programs: a Traditional Grant Program and a Mini Grant Program. See Grant Information.
With headquarters in Glenwood Springs, CO, the District operates through its Board of Directors and maintains a minimal, professional staff.