Lawmakers, Utah sheriffs want to rein in renegade BLM, Forest Service officers

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28 2013 2:15 p.m. MST

Smith said he'd been to Washington, D.C., four times, and one exchange devolved into a screaming match with top officials of the U.S. Forest Service.

"For the last few years, their whole agenda is: We don't want to work with you anymore, we don't have to work with you anymore, and we're not going to work with you anymore."

Lawmakers, too, wanted to hear from those federal agencies, but Noel said in his experience, it would likely be a top-down response from Washington that would not delve into the specifics of local examples where boundaries have been overstepped.

Meg Crandall, spokeswoman with the Utah BLM offices, said the agency was not invited to the meeting but is aware of Noel's proposal. She added that the "strong law enforcement partnerships BLM Utah personnel have established and maintain with local law enforcement" make it possible to keep public lands safe and enjoyable for visitors.

Noel said his measure does not apply to agencies such as the U.S. Marshal's Service, the DEA, FBI or Secret Service.

"We have tried to do it in the least intrusive manner possible," he said.

But Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, said he couldn't support the measure because it goes too far.

"This legislation crosses the line. The state is attempting to regulate federal law enforcement and their duties. ... You are creating an explosive situation here," Nelson said.

The measure passed on a 9-3 vote, with Nelson and Reps. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, and Larry Wiley, D-West Valley City, voting against it. 

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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