The battle to relinquish ownership of federally owned public lands within the boundaries of the State of Utah has been on going for decades. 64% of the lands originally included within the state’s boundaries are Federally owned and managed. The current battle, an extension of the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 70’s and 80’s, calls for the transfer of all Federally owned land within the state with the exception of national parks, designated wilderness areas and nationally monuments.
Legislation introduced during the Utah 2012 legislative general session by Representative Ken Ivory, Republican-West Jordan, calls for completion of the lands transfer by 1/1/2014 and threatens a lawsuit against the federal government if the deadline is not met.
An attempt to assume state ownership of lands currently owned by all Americans, HB 148 is a thinly veiled attempt to sell Federal public lands to the highest bidder for the purposes of fossil fuel extraction and development while providing a permanent roadblock to all future to wilderness designation, lands preservation and habitat restoration. This bill totally ignores the multi-billion dollar tourism industry in Utah in favor of the fossil fuel extraction industry, who provide significant financial support to Utah’s governor and legislators.
Advertised as a benefit to Utah’s schoolchildren who would receive 5% of lands proceeds, the bill ignores the huge loss of public land access and protection that would result, loss of wildlife habitat and overall lack of lands management currently funded by the Federal government. When considering the additional effects that climate change is and will have on the state, the negative affects to Utah’s multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation industry and damage to priceless landscapes and antiquities, the costs to the citizens of the state and our country as a result of this legislation are incalculable.
The Sierra Club opposes this legislation and is partnering with a broad coalition of environmental organizations to defeat this legislation.
Enabling Act of the Utah Constitution: (Act of July 16, 1894, ch. 138, 28 Statutes at Large 107.) An Act to enable the people of Utah to form a constitution and State government, and to be admitted into the Union.
“That the people inhabiting said proposed State to agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof; and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes; and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States.”