Utah Land Grab Archives


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  • March 3rd, 2015

    Great thanks to the nearly three hundred people who rallied at the Utah State Capitol yesterday evening! From chants in opposition to the state’s attempt to take public lands out of American hands and put them “on the chopping block”, to a rousing rendition of “This Land is Your Land” with rally applicable lyrics penned by The Slickrock Stranger, the Great Public Lands Gamble Rally was a great success! Conservation groups, sportsmen, educators, elected officials and outdoor business representatives all spoke out against the state of Utah’s ongoing efforts to seize ownership of America’s public lands and turn them into industrial uses for short-term gain.

    Add your voice to theirs by signing our petition to Governor Herbert.

    Land grab rally

    Emcee Dan McCool, Political Science Professor at the University of Utah urged the crowd to pass along a message to Governor Herbert “Governor, we call on you to distance yourself from the few legislators who cooked up this mess. Collaboration is the best way to solve our problems.” Peter Metcalf, CEO of outdoor recreation company Black Diamond Equipment reminded the crowd that “Non-consumptive industries like ours would be adversely impacted and marginalized in favor of heavy development, should the state assume management.” And Heather Bennett, founder of For Kids and Lands said “Our schools are not the place to roll the economic dice.”

    Thanks to everyone who weathered the early springtime blizzard and found a place to park at a crowded Capitol. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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  • January 31st, 2015

    A new White Paper from the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources & the Environment at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law has determined that when it comes to Utah’s Land Grab, “the public would suffer from this misguided effort.

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    “If Utah succeeds in taking over federal public lands,” the report concludes. “The public would have less, not more, input into land management, and all who utilize what are now public lands — industry and recreation interests alike — would see the cost of access increase substantially: ”

    The White Paper, titled “The Transfer of Public Lands Movement: Taking the ‘Public’ Out of Public Lands,” discusses Utah’s Transfer of Public Lands Act, or TPLA, which demands that the federal government transfer title to more than 31 million acres of federal public lands within Utah to the State. The TPLA has inspired eight other states to take up legislation seeking to control federal lands.

    The Stegner Center’s White Paper concludes that the TPLA hinders, rather than helps, efforts to advance public land management reform.

    Statements by TPLA backers signal a profound shift towards commodity production if Utah secures these lands, and even if more moderate voices prevail, a recent legislatively-commissioned report reveals that economic realities would force Utah to dramatically increase oil and gas development in order to cover new management expenses. Utah would likely also be forced to increase the rates it charges to all who access what were formerly public lands — including grazing permittees, mineral developers, hunters, anglers, and other recreational users. The public would also have less influence in land management decisions because federal planning and public input laws would not apply, and Utah has no comparable land planning or public participation requirements.

    Click here to read “The Transfer of Public Lands Movement: Taking the ‘Public’ Out of Public Lands”, which is a follow-up to “A Legal Analysis of the Transfer of Public Lands Movement,”  in which Professors Keiter and Ruple concluded that Utah has no legal basis to demand title to federal public lands.

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  • January 22nd, 2015

    This morning in Salt Lake City, former Secretary of the Interior and Governor of Arizona Bruce Babbitt called out Utah Governor Gary Herbert for leading the charge to seize control of federal public lands.

    Speaking to a packed audience of outdoor recreation industry representatives from across the county at the Outdoor Retailers Show, Babbitt noted that “Governor Herbert has proclaimed his personal enthusiasm for casting off federal environmental regulation” and warned that “the disappearance of outdoor spaces is an existential threat to your industry.”

    It’s also an existential threat to our way of life here in Utah. Like Babbitt, we “can’t imagine the West… as a landscape of locked gates, fences festooned with “NO TRESPASSING” signs, streams blocked off to fishermen, and campgrounds and hunting lands put on the auction block.”

    If you live in Utah, can you make sure Bruce Babbitt’s message is heard throughout Utah by sending an email to your state legislators today?

    If you live outside of Utah, please ask your representatives to stand up to protect Utah’s redrock country by cosponsoring America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act today.

    Your voice is important. For too long, radicals like State Representative Ken Ivory have been given free reign to push their privatizing public lands agenda.

    And while we’ve seen these types of attacks before, as Bruce Babbitt noted, “this time around the threat must be taken more seriously” because it “is a national effort, sponsored and produced behind-the-scenes by sophisticated lobbyists funded with torrents of cash from the oil and gas industry.

    “These new players are easing resentful racist characters like Cliven Bundy off the stage. They are bringing on political pros backed by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, funded from industry sources and seeking to dismantle environmental regulation.”

    Please, make sure your voice is heard over the industry lobbyists in Salt Lake City.

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  • December 9th, 2014

    From E&E News (subscription required):

    LAS VEGAS — Debate over whether and how Utah should take over federal public lands is a “waste of time” and hinders constructive dialogue between Utah and land management agencies, said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

    Jewell spoke to Greenwire on the sidelines of the Western Governors’ Association winter meeting here last Saturday…

    Her comments came less than a week after a study by Utah universities found that the state “likely” could afford to take over and steward roughly 31 million acres of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands within its borders, and could make a profit under certain energy revenue assumptions (Greenwire, Dec. 2).

    It’s important to note that the state can only “afford” to manage the lands in 2 out of 10 scenarios, in which oil prices remain consistently high.

    Utah’s takeover bid is a legal long shot and likely unconstitutional, legal scholars argue.

    But the economic study galvanized both supporters and opponents of the takeover plan.

    Jewell said the debate is irrelevant and counterproductive.

    “A relevant discussion is, ‘How can we work collectively with the states on the thoughtful management of public lands?’” she said. “I think it is a waste of time and resources to say we want to have a state takeover of public lands.”

    Jewell said states enjoy great benefits from federal lands in their states, such as mineral royalties, recreation, hunting and fishing, and quality of life. Land management is also paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

    We agree.

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