Salt Lake City Weekly reports: “Public lands office goes in guns blazing, hiring cronies and sparing no taxpayer expense fighting the feds”
In December 2011, Utah blazed new trails in public-lands litigation by being the first state to file notice of intent to sue to retake ownership of 18,784 roads in 22 rural counties. The state claims the right-of-way to these roads based on Revised Statute 2477, a law passed by Congress in 1866 to give settlers rights-of-way to the paths and trails they’d carved out of territorial lands (see p. 19).
The notices of intent served as the warning shot, giving the federal government 180 days to consider an alternative solution before the legal showdown really begins.
For Harja, the payoff for the years’ worth of preparation for litigation and preparation is simple.
“A transportation network that we can own,” Harja says.
SUWA attorney Heidi McIntosh disagrees.
“This really isn’t about roads,” McIntosh says. “It’s about trying to control federal public lands.” McIntosh points to the case of the Salt Creek Canyon feud, where San Juan County sued over the Salt Creek Trail in Canyonlands National Park to claim it as a road. The road was actually a streambed, and the county had previously been upset that SUWA had prevailed in court to prevent Jeeps from driving up the rugged path. “Jeeps would hit a rock, and all of the fluid and oil would drain into the creek,” destroy the vegetation and contaminate the stream, McIntosh says.
McIntosh highlights this case to point out that PLPCO’s claims on 18,784 roads—many of which are, in fact, dirt paths, streambeds and cowboy trails—stand to be an incredible taxpayer boondoggle. According to documents McIntosh received from the state in an open-records request, 113 of the 18,784 roads cross over national parks like Arches in Moab and Capitol Reef National Park near Torrey.
“It’s their attempt at shock and awe, because they can’t be serious about litigating 18,000 claims,” McIntosh says. She says San Juan County spent $1 million litigating the Salt Creek case alone, which they lost over a 12-day trial but are still appealing.
Read the rest of the article by clicking here.
And that’s not all, folks. Today, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the “Company backing Utah nuclear plant is a fraud.”