State trust lands will decline seriously under a proposed bill sponsored by Rep. Glen Brown, R-Coalville, two conservation groups said.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club said the proposed bill "is a thinly veiled attempt to gut the state land management program."Current law requires a general management plan be in place before state-owned lands may be sold. Brown's bill would eliminate the requirement.
"It's hard to imagine that anyone would seriously suggest that a trust responsibility as important as school trust lands should not have a planning requirement," said Ken Rait, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
"Yet that is what the bill would permit. This is clearly an irresponsible proposal," Rait said.
Brown said the environmentalists' criticisms are premature.
The bill, Brown said, is not even numbered or sponsored yet.
"I can't comment on the proposed bill because I haven't even had time to review it with the legislative analyst yet," Brown said. "Their (conservation groups) claims are a little crazy, because I don't even know where I'm at on it."
Brown said he was asked by State Land Board chairman Roger Peart to sponsor the bill.
"I want to hear (the board's) rationale and find out why they want to take it (public notification) away," Brown said.
The conservation groups said citizens would be removed from decisions about state land sales if the proposition were to become law.
"Currently, state law requires the State Land Board to publish all notices of state school trust land sales in local newspapers and the Utah State Bulletin," said Christine Osborne, public lands specialist for the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.