public lands

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

A federal appeals court judge has partially undone a lower court ruling that gave the state of Utah and Kane County rights to 12 of the 16 roads it sued the federal government to win control over.

Courtesy: / Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office

A new report on the impacts of transferring public lands to the control of the state of Utah indicates it could be economically feasible.

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.

Dan Bammes

Officials from 14 states who favor state control of federal land within their boundaries just wrapped up a three-day conference in Utah.  They believe their movement to take ownership of public lands is gaining momentum. 

Public Opinion Strategies

  Utah has pioneered the effort by Western states to take control of federal land within its borders.  But a recent poll finds that most voters in those states think it’s a bad idea. 

The poll of voters in eight Western states shows a majority -- 52% -- oppose attempts by their states to take control of public lands managed by the federal government.

The only state where a majority of voters favor the idea is Utah. A law passed by legislators in 2012 threatens legal action if the federal government doesn’t turn over title to those lands.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

A new report says antigovernment groups are gaining steam after last spring’s standoff between federal authorities and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. Some say Utah people and events are part of the trend. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports.

The federal Bureau of Land Management says it has sent its investigation report on last spring’s Recapture Canyon protest ride to the U.S. Justice Department.

A Utah-based good-government group applauds the move, saying the BLM should hold the protestors accountable for breaking the law.

Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration

    

New, bipartisan legislation in Congress would advance public education and conserve important landscapes by making it easier to transfer lands between government agencies.

    

There’s been debate all over the West for years about who’s best to police federal lands. On Wednesday, leaders from local, state and federal government agreed the best way to resolve the disputes is to keep talking.

Courtesy of the BLM, Utah office.

This week, the Bureau of Land Management released a final report on an oil spill that occurred near Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. 

Brian Grimmett

Members of the Utah Legislature’s Commission on Federalism received an update from the Attorney General’s office Tuesday on the viability of a case demanding the transfer of federal public lands to state control.

Courtesy of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance

Over the weekend, vandals defaced  an area of Nine Mile Canyon that contains rock art dating back more than thousand years. 

Deep inside Nine Mile Canyon near Price is an area of rock art dating back to 900 A.D., including an image of a pregnant buffalo. But on Sunday, several people observed that someone had carved the initials JMN along with the date into the rock near historic images. Jerry Spangler is the executive director of the Colorado  Plateau Archaeological Alliance.  He says the graffiti has compromised an important site.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

    

The fight over federal control of public lands shifted from the West’s deserts to an urban library Wednesday in a law-school style debate that took place in downtown Salt Lake City.

Arguing for state control of federal lands were Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart and State Representative Ken Ivory.

Former Bureau of Land Management Director Pat Shea and University of Utah Professor Dan McCool to made the case that the federal government is the better manager for six hundred million acres.

Judy Fahys/KUER

A local public official in southeastern Utah led a protest on federal land today against the Bureau of Land Management. 

The group rode all-terrain-vehicles into Recapture Canyon located in Utah’s four corners region. The BLM closed off access to the canyon about seven years ago to protect Native American burial sites.  San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman led the group into the canyon.  He says protesters don’t recognize the authority of the federal government.

Michael Jolley / Flickr Creative Commons

      

A Utah lawmaker’s campaign to take back federal lands is getting new, national traction thanks to a Nevada rancher’s standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, is head of a political nonprofit called the American Lands Council. Its goal is to get the federal government to relinquish control of most federal lands to the states.

Ken Lund

  

A state lawmaker says wilderness advocates are waging a war of attrition in the wildlands fight.

Kathleen Clarke leads Utah’s public lands policy office. Her job includes guiding the state’s legal battle over 12,000 roads in rural Utah. The state is fighting the federal government to prevent federal wilderness designation on the land those roads cross. She told legislative budget-makers Thursday some of her agency’s budget will help pay for 200 crucial interviews that need to be done in the next two years.

Wikimedia Commons

  Utah Governor Gary Herbert is asking Utah’s state lands agency not to lease about 20-thousand acres in the Book Cliffs for oil and gas drilling.  Sportsmen and environmental groups have said the area near Bogart Canyon needs to be protected as wildlife habitat. 

The governor told reporters at the state capitol Thursday afternoon the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, has done a good job getting money out of Utah’s state lands, but in this case, it needs to look at a long-term strategy that could bring in even more in the long run.

BLM Puts San Rafael Swell Areas Up For Auction

Aug 22, 2013

The federal Bureau of Land Management intends to lease nearly one hundred forty thousand acres in and around the San Rafael Swell in eastern Utah for oil and gas drilling. Many conservationist groups are angry about the lease auction, which is set to take place in November. 

The BLM itself has deemed much of the land to have wilderness and recreational value, but BLM Spokesperson Megan Crandall says that they decide whether to manage lands for wilderness uses or for other uses, like development.

Utah lawmakers voted Wednesday to repeal legislation that would have restricted the authority of federal law enforcement officers on public lands.                      

Activists are calling on Governor Gary Herbert to halt Utah’s efforts to seize control of federal land in the state. Educators, parents and students gathered at Liberty Park this morning to ask state lawmakers to find realistic solutions to funding education and stop taking aim at public lands.  

Ethan Lake is a senior at West High School in Salt Lake City. He says the state is blessed with a beautiful natural environment.

  Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) is hoping that a regional approach to resolving the status of public lands in Utah might work better than the county-by-county approach that's been tried before.  Bishop has been meeting with local government leaders and representatives of environmental groups, hoping to work out a plan that he can get through Congress.  He chairs the House Subcommittee on Public Lands.  The plan, he says, is to designate lands for preservation as wilderness and lands where development and revenue would be the primary goal.

Outdoor businesses and conservation groups are calling on the federal government to protect the land in and around Utah’s parks. 29 organizations sent a letter Monday to President Barack Obama calling for lasting protections for state and national parks from overdevelopment. 

Brian Grimmett

 Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz told members of the Utah Legislature to be prepared for an imminent cyber-attack during remarks made in both the House and Senate chambers Friday.

Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz says the future of economic development in Utah depends on the growth of high tech companies but with that comes the increased threat of cyber-attacks. He also stressed the importance of being prepared for such an attack telling legislators it’s not a matter if, but when.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert promotes Prosperity 2020 goals in Washington, D.C., Utah Democrats call for the protection of Utah’s greater canyonlands, and the Division of Air Quality is targeting the use of toxic consumer cleaning products.

Brian Grimmett

Democratic State Lawmakers are calling the federal government to protect and preserve Utah’s greater canyonlands.  

On the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday, State Senator and Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis sought to preserve one the state’s natural treasures. He introduced Senate Joint Resolution 10 that seeks public comment on how to protect the greater canyonlands.

US Department of the Interior / Bureau of Reclamation

The federal Bureau of Reclamation’s recent release of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Narrows Dam on Gooseberry Creek in Sanpete County is likely to be contested in court. The relatively small water project would allow the Sanpete Water Conservancy District to develop an existing Gooseberry Project right to 5400 acre-feet of water for farmers’ late summer crop.

Challenge to BLM Plans Moves Ahead

Dec 26, 2012
Scott Braden

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed new court papers last week to move its case ahead challenging six Resource Management Plans for Utah adopted by the Bureau of Land Management at the end of the Bush administration.  The new filings focus on the RMP for the Richfield field office, an area that SUWA lawyer Steve Bloch says includes some of Utah's most spectacular country.

"Places like the Dirty Devil, Factory Butte, the Henry Mountains, Muddy Creek on the southern end of the 

petition delivery
Dan Bammes

A petition with more than five thousand signatures demanding an end to Utah's attempt to take control of federal lands was delivered Wednesday to Governor Gary Herbert's office.  The effort was led by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and supported by activists like Dwight Butler of Wasatch Touring.  He says the federal government is taking good care of its land right now.

"The state of Utah, there's a good chance, would develop it, or sell parcels off, or divide it up," he told KUER.  "I think it's the best protection we have right now and we should keep it that way."

Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge
Dan Bammes

Counties across Utah are getting more than $36 million from the federal government this year under the Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILT program.  The money is meant to help counties provide services such as search and rescue and firefighting in areas where there's a lot of federal land.