Governor Herbert is crowing today about a decision by a trial court judge that granted Kane County and the state of Utah title to 12 of 15 road claims that had been in dispute with the U.S. Department of Interior.
While the Governor trumpets this small ideological victory as a major accomplishment, however, Utah taxpayers should be reminded that they are paying a huge legal bill so the state can claim a mere 89 miles of so-called “roads” — some of which look like this:
The real goal of the Governor is to gain control over federal public lands and to prevent these lands from gaining wilderness protection.
And how much has the state of Utah spent to date to win this first round – with an appeal of this decision surely coming? In a similar years-long battle in San Juan County, the state of Utah and the county spent more than a million dollars litigating their claim to a route in Canyonlands National Park — and ultimately lost.
Governor Herbert and various Utah counties have filed 29 additional lawsuits claiming more than 14,000 rights of way totaling nearly 35,000 miles of dirt trails and routes on public lands.
89 miles down. Approximately 34,911 miles and millions of taxpayer dollars to go. This, Governor Herbert insists, is a major accomplishment.
But in truth, yesterday’s decision is but the first round in a long game in which Governor Herbert is willing to wager the future of Utah’s national parks and monuments — as well as Utah’s iconic wilderness landscapes — in order to control their fate. The clear losers, however, are the Utah taxpayers who are footing the bill for Governor Herbert’s ongoing ideological land grab.