public lands

Courtesy: / U.S. Bureau of Land Management

State leaders and a congressman pledged on Friday to keep fighting Washington on behalf of rural Utah.

The governor and lieutenant governor both served on county commissions early in their careers. So it was no surprise on “Rural Legislative Day” at the State Capitol that they promised to back up local leaders on issues like boosting jobs and education. And, like them, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop said he’ll keep taking rural Utah’s side against what they call federal overreach.

Pool: Deseret News

Utah Governor Gary Herbert touted the state’s economy and recent growth in education funding during his annual State of the State speech from the Capitol on Wednesday night.

Brian Grimmett

The 2016 session of the Utah Legislature began on Monday. Listen to some of the sounds of the opening day from the State Capitol.

Judy Fahys/KUER

A comprehensive land-use proposal for eastern Utah made its public debut Wednesday -- three years after Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, began stitching together support in rural Utah between disparate user groups.

Judy Fahys/KUER

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s back in federal court this week. He’s being sentenced for organizing a protest ride into Recapture Canyon last year in a case that’s often compared with the prosecution of another person who challenged authority: climate-change activist Tim DeChristopher. 

Judy Fahys/KUER

Utah’s land-transfer advocates agree it's time to get a lawsuit ready for the U.S. Supreme Court after lawyers told legislators Wednesday that solid legal arguments support the quest to take over federal lands in Utah. They say it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to control so much land in the state. “It is not an easy path,” said the leader of the legal team, New Orleans attorney George Wentz. 

Tim Peterson

Governor Gary Herbert says he might be OK with the idea of a new National Monument in Utah if it helps give the state freedom over other areas of public lands.

Judy Fahys/KUER

The popular Land and Conservation Water Fund has pumped more than $17 billion into thousands of projects nationwide in a half century. Around $171 million has gone into Utah projects like building neighborhood playgrounds, developing the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and restoring wildlife habitat.

Judy Fahys

The Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands is recommending that the state get involved in San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s appeal of his recent conviction in federal court.

Courtesy: BLM

A new good-government group, called the Campaign for Accountability, is calling for an investigation of the nonprofit behind the lands-transfer movement and the Utah lawmaker in charge of it.

Judy Fahys

The jury trial of the four men accused of conspiring to illegally ride their ATV’s into Recapture Canyon last May began in Federal Court on Wednesday.

Troy Snow

A federal appeals court has declined to reconsider a ruling that left six Kane County roads in the control of the federal government.

The second week of the Utah Legislature is now in the books, and while it wasn’t as eventful as the first week, it definitely had its moments.

Brian Grimmett

A Utah Senate committee approved a bill today that would give the Attorney General’s office a deadline to file a lawsuit over Utah’s public lands.

Brian Grimmett/KUER

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the Utah Attorney General to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the longstanding argument over who owns Utah’s public lands.

Judy Fahys/KUER

 A former top lands leader says America’s latest Sagebrush Rebellion is a danger to the nation's public-lands heritage. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, speaking at the Outdoor Retailers trade show in Salt Lake City Thursday, urged the industry to fight back.

Judy Fahys

A federal judge has decided that San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman can afford legal counsel and will not be allowed to use a court appointed public defender. Lyman is facing charges related to his participation in a protest on federal land.

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.

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