Utah and 22 of its counties are going to federal court over right-of-way claims to an estimated 12,000 of these roads, routes or trails that the state and counties have to prove have been subject to continuous "historical use" for a decade or more.
The lawsuits against the Interior Department boil down to maintaining, gaining or preserving access to lands — "roads" can't exist in designated wilderness. Environmental groups say the claims lay stake to "roads to nowhere" and are part of an anti-lands agenda.
5. Endangered species and Utah
Utah politicians are strenuously fighting to keep San Juan County's population of the Gunnison sage grouse from being named to the Endangered Species List. More than 90 percent of the birds' habitat occurs on private lands in the rural southeastern county, and the majority of that on acreage for farming and ranching.
Such designations, which have occurred for the Utah prairie dog, render tight land-use restrictions and limit local and state governments' ability to respond to manage populations. Prairie dogs have been blamed for costly public safety issues at rural municipal airports after colonies move in, necessitating congressional intervention to solve the problem.
The state also fears a popular state park could be closed with the proposed listing of a rare beetle found only in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes area.
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