Governor Gary Herbert says he’s intrigued by the prospect of suing the federal government over public lands control.
Late last year a legislative commission on the stewardship of public lands voted in favor of pursuing a lawsuit against the federal government. The estimated price tag came in at $14 million dollars. During his monthly news conference on KUED Channel 7, Herbert said he thinks that might be too high of a price, but he’s open to the idea of a lawsuit as part of a much larger strategy.
“What we can reconcile legislatively, let’s do," he said. "And if we can’t, we ought to be arm and arm and say, well we can’t reconcile these legislatively and let’s go to court and see if the court can make the determination. That ought not to be a problem.”
Herbert was then asked if he feels Utah’s stance on the issue helped contribute to the armed conflicts in Nevada and Oregon. He replied that he thinks the issues being disputed are different, but that the events ought to be a wake up call that there are legitimate concerns out there causing frustration.
“I don’t think having armed conflict and confrontation is the right way to resolve these issues, by the way, but we ought to in fact negotiate," he said. "We ought to talk to each other and have better communication with kind of mutual respect and understanding of a difference of opinion.”
Herbert also said that if the state does decide to move forward with a lawsuit, the executive branch would take the lead and it would not be turned over to some outside group.