Comments about ‘Robert Bennett: Utah unlikely to 'take back' federal lands’

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Published: Monday, Feb. 17 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

This is really interesting history. I tend to be opposed to the state's claiming current Federal lands because the motive is generally one of a local private interest wanting to get property at a bargain price. Moreover had the state seized these lands public recreation would be virtually nil. Utah would be the private preserve for rich Californians - we would have to pay dearly to camp, hunt or fish on these lands. I value these activities - so keep Federal ownership.

Far East USA, SC

Mr Bennett.

This piece is an excellent example of why you are no longer in Congress.

Your piece contains facts and rational explanations which are contrary to a well crafted "government is always the problem" message.

The notion that you "cant take back something that was never yours" does not fit the narrative and will only bring you wrath and rebuke.

John Kateel
Salt Lake City, UT

Probably the best article I have ever read that outlines the reasoning of the Sagebrush Rebellion folks. Using this same logic of rugged individualism, I want to "take back" my office space from my landlord who owns my office tower. I have requested time and time again to be able to have a pay by the hour bedroom set up in one of the cubicles. Sleepy office workers, long haul truckers, and other folks can then pay me for a place to lay their head and snooze. They denied my requests and I could of made thousands of dollars if I was not stifled by such tyranny. If I could just seize the title of my office, I will never have my property rights trampled by my landlord again!

Provo, UT

Excellent historical perspective, Mr. Bennett.

Why in the world anyone thought Mr. Lee and his hair brained schemes deserved their vote rather than you, Mr. Bennett, will always puzzle me.

Salt Lake City, UT

Senator Bennett, thank you for this enlightening review of history. Now, is there some way we can get you to run for office again please! We need wise and balanced men like yourself in office.

Ogden, UT

Well said, Robert Bennett. It's nice to see the TRUTH told on this issue for once, instead of just seeing political rhetoric being used to try to gain political advantage for those on the far-right. In the course of my work I've seen the patents from the government (in all of Utah's counties) which conveyed federal land to Utah when the state was created -- they did NOT include the lands Utah's politicians are now trying to co-opt. Thank you for your insight.

American Fork, UT

Interesting story. Does it strike anyone else as interesting that Sen. Bennett doesn't know the name of the Utah governor? Makes me wonder if the story is more folktale than fact...

m.g. scott
clearfield, UT

I'm rather new to Utah. Thanks Mr. Bennett for showing us your true hand. Democrat in Republican clothing. You sounded like a typical liberal with all that stuff about who owned this land, going back to the Indians. Why not just say that Mexico should still be running this place? And now I know why the vote to get you out and put Lee in was one the the best things that could have happened to the people here in Utah who have Republican and conservative and states rights values. Which, is the majority.

Bountiful, UT

Another aspect seldom mentioned is the Utah School Trust Lands, parceled off and often mixed in with federal land, for the benefit of Utah's school children.

Over time, half of those lands have been sold off, so now Utah's school children only have 50% of the land which was actually deeded to them.

Clearly, local interests - under the temptation for short term gain - have not done a good job of being stewards of the land originally given.

So, naturally, they want more.

Sometimes it's beneficial to have an authority above you to help you make wise and prudent decisions. You can rail and complain and cry injustice, but more & more people are realizing that having the federal government own most of the land in Utah has resulted in that land still available for the public.

If you want to see what it would be like to have Utah take ownership of federal lands, go visit Texas, where there are almost no public lands, and if you want to hunt or enjoy open spaces, you need permission and probably a fee from a private owner.

West Jordan, UT

Not sure why that little story matters now. Just because it was once offered doesn't mean we can't request possession of it today. Times change Mr Bennett and if the federal government won't use the resources then our request for it's use shouldn't be seen as some kind of rebellion. As for who possessed it before the federal government, well you could make the same argument for all of America.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

"Excellent historical perspective, Mr. Bennett.

Why in the world anyone thought Mr. Lee and his hair brained schemes deserved their vote rather than you, Mr. Bennett, will always puzzle me."

Because rational candidates don't win in party caucuses.

In order to win in caucuses you must sound angry and more radical than all the other candidates.

Herriman, UT

For those who believe Utah will get this land "back" I say respectfully all you are doing is political grandstanding. Let's spend time on issues that could be more easily resolved if we had the political will to do so. Education anyone?

Bountiful, UT

To reveal the underlying motive of Utah Republicans, let's engage in some simulated litigation of who the owners should be, paying close attention to the chain of ownership cited by Senator Bennett.

My hunch is most of these Sagebrush Rebels would quickly scurry back under the federal umbrella, if it looked like legal ownership was going to be granted to the first owners of Utah land, upon contact with outsiders: the Utes, Goshutes, Paiutes, Shoshone and Navajo.

Though the tribes would be overrun by business proposals by potential "partners", the end of the debate would quickly end when the tribes proposed a large casino complex in the Salt Lake Valley.

Utah conservatives would happily embrace federal ownership, claiming the whole idea was prompted by erroneous fears of a "complete federal takeover of healthcare" by Obama, which can now be pinned on a repentant Glenn Beck, who regrets dividing the nation through his rhetoric.

I've seen this movie before, just with different actors and a slightly modified script.

Springville, UT

@ Florwood, I'm missing the basis of your criticism of Sen. Bennett on the name of the Governor. Curious.

As for those who think transferring federal lands to Utah or to private interests, trust me, you won't like it if you are a public lands user. The quality of life in Utah will drop dramatically. And to folks like Tulip, resources on public lands are in fact being accessed now. Mines, grazing, etc. Just because there are a few vocal, and greedy, folks huffing and puffing does not mean they have the interests of the rest of us at heart.

Fairview, UT

This is a good reason to go back and study the Tenth Amendment which limits federal authority to only those powers "expressly" delineated in the Constitution. Many states have already passed legislation limiting that authority (W.V. Intrastate Coal and Use Act (H.B. 2554). The problem I see is that too many local politicians aspire to federal office and don't give a whit about States Rights. This was foreseen by the founders as illustrated in the Federalist Papers but they were pinning their hopes on an active state electorate and a moral Republic. Unfortunately, we no longer have either of those.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

" And now I know why the vote to get you out and put Lee in was one the the best things that could have happened to the people here in Utah who have Republican and conservative and states rights values. Which, is the majority."

Is that why Lee has been flip flopping and trying to appear more liberal since the government shutdown?

Is that why Jim Matheson will soon take Lee's place?

If utah were happy with Lee he wouldn't be flip flopping. Nor would Matheson have given up his seat to run against Lee.

West Jordan, UT


Mining and grazing...whoopee! As for your "vocal and greedy" comment, how about use of the land for the common good like education and healthcare. That way you don't have to constantly crush the taxpayer...and personally if those with the money and know-how make a living at it, why should any of us care? They'll pay taxes up the wazoo which benefits all of us...immensely.

Houston, TX

@10CC - There is a reason why the state of Texas has so few acres of federal land. When Texas was an independent nation ("The Republic of Texas"), we owned all our land. When Texas joined with the United States in 1845, the contract allowed this state to continue to own all of its land. Over the years, we've sold some land to the Federal government for parks, etc., but we were careful not to go overboard. Much of the oil produced in Texas comes from state-owned land, and not surprisingly we don't have a state income tax. All in all, I think we came out ahead on this deal.

St George, Utah

It never hurts to ask. However, what is the legal basis for saying the Federal lands must be returned to Utah ? Doesn't the Utah constitution and the enabling legislation making Utah a state pretty much make it clear it has renounced it's right to those lands ??

Salt Lake City, UT

@Florwood "Does it strike anyone else as interesting that Sen. Bennett doesn't know the name of the Utah governor? "

I'll take "Utah governors for 200 Alex."

What Utah governor turned down Federal lands when offered.

Me: "Who was Governor Dern?"

Sweat, sweat, sweat.

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