Lands-Transfer Report, Decisions Delayed

Nov 19, 2014

A view from Josie Morris Cabin Road in the Uintas. Lawmakers continue to debate the fate of public lands that are currently in federal hands. Lawmakers have demanded that the federal agencies turn over control of that land to the state. About 2/3 of the lands in Utah are controlled by the federal government.
Credit Courtesy: / Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office

Utah lawmakers will have to wait a little longer for an analysis of a federal lands transfer.

The state public lands policy coordinating office told them Wednesday a report on transferring federal lands to state hands still needs finishing touches.

Assistant Attorney General Tony Rampton said the analysis is clear-eyed, scrupulously objective and exhaustive at nearly 800 pages.

“We want Utah to be prosperous,” he said, reading from the conclusion. “This requires a diversified and enduring economy. To get there, we need to pursue development and the recreational economy. And ensure our efforts to promote one economic sector do not unduly constrain another.”

The Legislature passed the lands-transfer bill in 2012. It orders the federal government to relinquish most lands by the end of this year.

But the report’s delay is another sign that lawmakers won’t decide what to do until next year or later.

Kathleen Clarke, state lands coordinator, insisted the report’s findings are not politically tainted.

“I will assure you that these folks have been entirely objective,” she said. “We have not tried to sway them.

Lawmakers will discuss the report publicly for the first time next month.