ISSUES

Protecting Public Lands

Over generations, the Utah GOP has been unwilling to face the facts of Public lands. The political price of not appeasing the extremists in their party has been too high to allow for serious discussions. So, at taxpayers’ expense, Utah has built up a multi-million dollar cottage industry of lawyers, PR firms, consultants and state bureaucrats who profit fabulously off the continued fantasy public land legal fight. That must end! Utah spends uncounted millions of dollars (calculatingly segregated into many state budgets–so as to make a total number tough to find) to fund lawsuits against the Feds. The idea is to ‘demand back’ 32,000,000 acres of public land that is in the state.
The Utah ENABLING ACT, the agreement with the Feds that gave Utah statehood (approved July 16, 1894), is the contract signed between the people of Utah and the USA that allowed Utah to become part of the USA, create a state constitution and form a state government.
The Enabling Act reads:
“That the people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they FOREVER disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof; the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States, such lands shall be exempt from taxation by said State so long and to such extent as such act of Congress may prescribe.”
The myth that the state of Utah is ‘owed’ 32,000,000 acres of public land is a faulty and holding it as truth is dangerous. Given its track record, if the legislature and governor got ahold of Utah’s public land the consequences would be catastrophic. People that love an open, free, unexploited, unfenced, outdoor recreation friendly, hunting and fishing availability land – would be fenced out by the huge corporate interests that the state would sell the land to.
I am working hard to protect our sacred lands, to keep the state from acquiring more public land, to make sure that we are not selling off our public land, and to work with our friends in Washington DC to make sure that our rural communities receive compensation on their annual PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) payments to cover their operating expenses.