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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
@ 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.
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
" 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.
@esquireMining 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.
@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.
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 ??
@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.
@ Tulip, I assume you are not aware of PIL. Utah gets millions from the Federal
government - just for nothing. Utah receives more money from the feds than it
pays. Utah is a taker state. And taxes here are lower than in a lot of places.
(But it sounds like you want more taxes). But, tell me, just how would you
exploit the federal lands? How would you turn them into revenue without turning
them over to the private sector? And after you do that, how will you avoid all
those formerly public lands from being fenced off, keeping all of us from
enjoying them like we now do? So, give us some specifics? Exactly what will be
done if the feds give most of the land back to the state? What will the state
do with them, and what business interests will then get them? And what will
those business interests do with them exactly? Huff and puff all you like about
the evil feds and taxes, but you have no plan to put on the table for our
My perception of the Sagebrush Rebellion has been that it forwards the interests
of the real stewards of public lands, those who had kept it for generations
without any intervention, government controls acting as the typical
irresponsible absentee landlord. Though not many realize it, this attitude has
hardly diminished among those who actually reside and frequent public lands in
the West. More of them seem to have a practical understanding of the freedom of
the hills and what it represents in Utah.I suspect that the majority
of residents of Utah never visit the wilds of Utah, and generally value the
comfort and cultured convenience of their congested stuffy cities along the
@jcobabe "My perception of the Sagebrush Rebellion has been that it
forwards the interests of the real stewards of public lands,..." I would
agree with you if you were talking about the 19th Century. THEN Mormon
agriculture adopted a socialist model dealing with natural resources
particularly water and timber. It's true - 19th Century Utah was at least
half socialist. Those days are long gone, and we are a money hungry developer
driven system. A Utah takeover of our Federal lands would rape those lands pure
@esquire, On the table for consideration: I would lease to the private sector
with certain conditions (like don't fence it off... as a concession to our
environmental friends) and then I'd take 10% of the revenue. I love the
private sector. Taxes may be lower here than elsewhere but they could be even
lower (yeah!). I love, love, love keeping as much of what I earn as is humanly
possible. A foreign concept in this day to be sure.
Wait a minute... When the Federal Government made Utah a state why did title to
the land stay with the Federal Government? Doesn't seem fair.
All excellent points by Senator Bennett. However, it still does not seem fair
that Eastern states control almost all of their land, but Utah just a minority
of its. With Statehood came conferred the rights and control associated with
appropriate state sovereignty. Presidents, US military, and other federal groups
have taken Utah lands under federal control multiple times since statehood; that
has not happened to most states.
Watch who gets their way with the State prison property, and you will see
who wants more control of the "land"....Will it be -- The good citizens of the State, for fine Parks and Recreation, or
Developers, exploiters, and greedy business charlitans?
Mr. Bennett. We miss you. Apparently such logic and rational discussion have no
place in our current political atmosphere. Our public lands are one
of the best things Utah has to offer. Sure the state "might" do a better
job and they "might" keep them more open and accessible to the public,
frankly it's not a chance I am willing to take. There are way to many
developers and former real estate tycoons in our legislature for me to trust
them any further than I can throw them. The lands were never Utahs, and frankly
Utah can't afford to manage them. We currently have a great situation where
the feds pay the cost and we reap the benefits. Let's not change that
simply for political pandering and ideology. 1Reader, Have you lived
out east? Have you tried to go hunting? camping? If you like the idea of your
state controlling all of your lands, I suggest you move and discover what
it's like when there are precious few public lands in your state.
19th century Mormons I don't think were as good of stewards as we like to
think. Have you spent much time in the mountain around here and seen any of the
abandoned mines that are now leaking toxic heavy metals into our water supply?
Granted that's how it was back then and they probably didn't know any
better. Interestingly enough though Brigham young actually advised people NOT to
open the Kennecot open pit mine.Conservation is a relatively new
ideology, back then people simply didn't understand, or they couldn't
fathom that there would be a time when there would be so many people and so much
development that access and preservation of nature and wide open free spaces
would be an issue.
"As much Land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the
product of, so much is his property." John Locke, Second Treatise of
Government, Chapter Five, Of PropertyJohn Locke was known and
respected as a seminal writer on governmental issues and the philosophies of
freedom, who often applied his philosophies to Amerca as a land in a state of
nature with great resources. He was a profound influence on our founding
fathers. No constitutional provision or prohibition exists of claiming land for
the federal government or disallowing it to the States AND the People.On the basis of this just provision of allowing land to belong to he who makes
improvement of it, the federal government could claim but little of the vast
acreages of wilderness which it leaves to weeds and reptiles. It is shameful,
imo, that while people are unemployed and willing to work, the feds continue in
a dog and manger attitude that denies employment and useful free application of
labor to the people they are chosen to serve. There does not seem to be a lack
of enterprising spirit in the people.
andyjaggythe 19th century Mormons were not the miners. Back then it was the
"gentiles", originating with the Johnson's army discharged
This is an honest attempt to correct the misinformation in the posts...first of
all, the Federal Government does own the land and has from the beginning of
statehood. Second, in the State enabling act which is the contract between
those who are states and those who desire statehood, the Federal Government
promised to dispose of the unappropriated lands, and that 5% of the proceeds
would go to the schools as part of a permanent trust fund for education. Third,
the governors of all of the western states turned down the federal proposal to
dispose because the proposed deal was to dispose of the lands but retain the
minerals. The governors demanded "the whole loaf" in order to be on
equal footing with the other states west of Colorado. (That was in 1933).
Fourth, the Utah demand is for the transfer to be to the State, not to be
privatized. Federal Lands would become State lands to be managed for true
multiple use with all existing rights intact. The idea is to have the Federal
Government honor to the western states the same promises it made and kept to all
of the states east of Colorado.
In order to answer the question:wrzPhoenix, AZWait a
minute... When the Federal Government made Utah a state why did title to the
land stay with the Federal Government? Doesn't seem fair.All of
the states in their enabling acts (including the eastern states) "...forever
and always disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated lands". The
purpose of this language was to give the Fed unencumbered title which they could
then dispose to the final owner, which they were duty bound by the enabling act
to do. They simply failed to dispose for so long that most have forgotten the
promise. That's the danger of ignoring history. In 1976 in the Federal
Lands Policy Management Act congress decided to abandon a policy of disposal and
pursue a policy of retention. The better question is how the federal government
unilaterally change a contract without the other party (state) consent.
@ Tulip, lease the land to private interests but make them leave it unfenced?
Have you thought this through? Let's consider the options. Lease land for
a mine. No fence? Lease for grazing? No fence? Lease for building on? No
leaseholder controls? What else? Come on, think this through. Last summer, I
was riding a bike in the Hudson Rive Vally in NY. Saw some gorgeous land with
no improvements on it. Except fencing and lots of no trespassing signs.
That's what's in Utah's future if you get your way. As I said
earlier, Utahns won't like it. It will change a critical benefit of why we
live here and our quality of life. By the way, many of those states where there
is little federal ownership of land, the taxes are in fact much higher. There
is so much federal land that would need to be managed by the state that
won't be leased out that the cost will exceed the benefit. Again, think it
Let Utah cover the costs of just ONE forest fire for just ONE season, and
then let's get back and talk some more...shall we?
Dough said: Federal Government promised to dispose of the unappropriated lands,
and that 5% of the proceeds would go to the schools as part of a permanent trust
fund for education. Fourth, the Utah demand is for the transfer to be to the
State, not to be privatized. ...and yet they've sold half of
the school trust land to private interests?