SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Rob Bishop took "umbrage" with an ad campaign, particularly the photos, attacking his public lands initiative even before he unveiled it last week.
The Utah Republican told state lawmakers Friday that he was offended by an ad accusing him of wanting to sell off public land and using a picture of land his bill would protect as part of expanding Arches National Park. He also didn't like the photo of himself in the ad.
"I took offense and great umbrage of the picture they used. The picture they have of me is what I call my embalmed picture," he said, adding that it showed him devoid of color in his face and 65 pounds ago. "So, good hell, if you're actually going to do something against me, at least use a good picture at the same time."
Bishop's comments came in response to question in the Senate about how proponents of his public lands initiative can win the public relations battle. Bishop also took questions and spoke in the House.
In addition to expanding Arches, his proposal would create a new national monument in Utah, recreation and energy zones, new conservation areas, new wilderness designations and protection for prime hunting and fishing areas.
Environmental groups and some Native American tribes have criticized the initiative.
The veteran congressman said Utah is a public lands state and always will be. The question is whether those lands should be managed from Washington, D.C., or locally.
"We have no intention of actually selling off the state of Utah," he said.
Bishop applauded Republican state lawmakers and urged them to pursue all avenues possible to gain control of public lands. The decisions about the lands should be made by people who live in the state, he said.
Legislators are considering spending as much as $14 million to sue the federal government