Utah is taking the lead in one of the most important issues of our time. With 66.5% of Utah being federally owned, we are working to restore a more equitable balance and bring back local control of federal lands.
Over the past two years, the Legislature ran key legislation to begin that process. As the chair, of the Public Lands Caucus, this past year I sponsored several key pieces of legislation and we funded a Commission to put us on the path.
There are three pathways to resolving this issue: negotiation, legislation, and litigation. Talking about it for 118 years has failed. Legislation has helped prepare us. But I believe it will take a litigation and a court ruling to net results. With historical, legal, and constitutional precedent, we believe that the opportunity to provide more balance will come within the next few years.
Controlling our lands is the only solution big enough to help Utah adequately fund education, to reduce federal dependance, to better manage our diseased forests, to provide access to roads for recreation, ranching, mining, fire breaks, fishing and more. Local control allows us to better protect Utah’s pristine wilderness and exquisite scenic lands, too.
There is still important work to do. Send me back to the Legislature to advance this discussion and claim what was promised.
To read more about the Public Lands issue, visit the following links:
Public Lands and the Federal Government’s Compact-Based ‘Duty to Dispose’: A Case Study of Utah’s H.B. 148 — The Transfer of Public Lands Act
Donald J. Kochan, Chapman University School of Law, 2013 Brigham Young University Law Review, Vol. 2013, No. 5, 2013 link