Blog Archives - Page 3 of 106


  • December 8th, 2014

    You know you’ve got a problem when even George W. Bush’s former Interior Secretary doesn’t think the Utah land grab will succeed. From E & E (subscription required):

    Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton questioned the viability today of conservatives’ efforts to transfer federal lands to state control…

    Asked by Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, president of the American Lands Council, about the prospects for states taking ownership of federal tracts, Norton said, “I have to admit, I’m somewhat hampered by experience.” She had just concluded a headline speech at a Washington, D.C., summit organized by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council…

    “Even during the Reagan administration, that went down in flames,” she said….

    “It’s not just the people of Utah that need to be assured that it can work, but the people of New York and California and so forth,” she said. “So it’s a real uphill battle.”

    Just uphill? Quixotic is more like it.

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  • December 3rd, 2014

    Dismisses Utah claims to 6 routes and concludes width of 3 other routes must be revisited

    Salt Lake City, Utah (December 3, 2014) – Yesterday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a key decision in the State of Utah’s ongoing roads (RS 2477) litigation.

    North Swag RS 2477 Claim (vertical)

    RS 2477 “highway” in Kane County.

    The appeals court cut in half a 2013 decision by a district court judge to grant Utah and Kane County 12 so-called RS 2477 rights-of-way. The appeals court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over 6 of the 12 routes because they were open for motorized travel pursuant to federal land use plans. The court also reversed the district court’s “scope” (width) determinations regarding 3 other routes located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and remanded for further proceedings.

    “This decision is a significant set-back for the State of Utah’s effort to wrest control of more than 14,000 claimed ‘highways’ across federally managed lands in the state,” said Stephen Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “After more than 10 years of litigation and millions of taxpayer dollars, Utah has little to show for its efforts. Of the 17 claimed RS 2477 rights-of-way litigated in two separate cases all the way to the Tenth Circuit, the State has established title to only 6 routes, leaving 13,983 routes to go.”

    The appeals court also rejected an argument advanced by conservation groups that the State’s RS 2477 claim in the Paria-Hackberry wilderness study area was filed too late and after the relevant 12-year statute of limitations had run.

    After being denied intervention in these proceedings, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and The Wilderness Society participated as amicus curiae before both the district court and court of appeals. The Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, and National Parks Conservation Association also participated as amicus curiae in separate filings before the appeals court.

    A copy of the decision is available here.

    Background
    Originally filed in 2008, Kane County and the State of Utah expended millions of dollars to pursue 16 claimed rights-of-way in this lawsuit. Several of the claims are located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and one is within a BLM wilderness study area.

    This case is one of 25 filed by the State of Utah and its counties that claim title to approximately 14,000 dirt trails and roads across the state. Many of these claims are little more than stream bottoms and old mining tracks in the desert that serve no practical purpose whatsoever. The State is relying on a provision in the Mining Act of 1866 to try and establish its claimed rights-of-way.

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  • December 1st, 2014

    In 2012 the Utah legislature passed a bill demanding that the federal government turn over almost all public land in the state by the end of this year.

    With that deadline less than a month away, SUWA has launched a new statewide television, radio and web campaign to educate Utahns about the cost of Utah’s land grab – and how all Americans would lose our redrock heritage while private interests gain.

    Click here to help stop Utah’s land grab once and for all.

    Under Utah’s land grab scheme, the future of places like Greater Canyonlands, the San Rafael Swell and Cedar Mesa would be controlled by Utah politicians who favor development over conservation.

    While the state’s effort will likely be found unconstitutional in the courts, we need to expose this for what it is: completely wrongheaded public policy — and we need to stop it now because it creates a political environment that makes it harder to protect Utah’s wild lands for all Americans.

    Please contribute today to help stop Utah’s land grab.

    Just today a team of economists from three Utah universities, hired by the legislature, released a report that shows that if Utah were to take public lands from the federal government it would have to privatize them or pursue heavy development in order to pay for their management.

    This is a terrible idea that needs to be stopped now. Imagine the Book Cliffs strip-mined for tar sands; Arches National Park ringed with oil and gas wells; and a giant coal mine in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is what some Utah politicians want to see happen.

    Click here to stop Utah politicians from seizing America’s redrock wilderness.
    Your contribution today will help us stop Utah’s land grab, and protect Utah’s redrock wilderness, now and forever.

    (Click here to learn more about the economic report released today.)

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  • December 1st, 2014

    If Illegal Land Seizure Were to Occur, State Would Profit Only Through Heavy Industrialization of Utah’s Wildlands

    For Immediate Release. Contact: David Garbett, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801-428-3992

    Salt Lake City – Today, a team of economists from three Utah universities released a report which shows that if Utah were to take public lands from the federal government it would have to privatize them or pursue heavy development in order to make a profit.

    In 2012, the Utah Legislature passed a bill demanding that the federal government turn over almost all public land in the state by the end of 2014. The following year, it authorized a study to determine whether doing so made economic sense. This study was released to the public today.

    However, the economics of the Legislature’s claims to federal public lands is irrelevant. Scholars at the state’s own law school concluded that Utah has no legal right to the federal public lands. The Legislature’s legal counsel also warned that the courts would likely find these efforts unconstitutional. (The warning is found in the legislative review note attached to the bottom of the draft legislation.) In fact, the Utah Constitution forever disclaims any interest in public lands within the state’s boundaries. (Utah Constitution, Art. 3, Section 1, Second Clause.)

    “This study shows that if the state of Utah seizes public lands owned by all Americans the only way it will be able to afford them is to sell them off or destroy them through heavy development,” remarked David Garbett, a staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “When will the Legislature realize that the public does not want to see the Wasatch Mountains barricade with “No Trespassing” signs, the Book Cliffs lost to tar sand strip mines, or Arches National Park ringed with oil and gas development?”

    PublicLandsforSale

    Although this study is born of the pipedreams of schemers and historical revisionists, it provides important warnings regarding the economic realities of such a land takeover. Among other things, it shows that if the state were to seize federal lands, under most scenarios, it would be a net money loser. Far from bankrolling Utah’s public schools, as proponents of the legislation claim, this takeover would serve to enrich private interests but rob all Americans of their priceless natural heritage.

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