SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker said he and his colleagues in the Legislature should not be caught by surprise if members of the congressional delegation are seeking federal land designations.
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, pointed to previous legislation supported by the Mountain Accord and other local governments that sought land trades and a new wilderness designation involving 80,000 acres.
The measure died after the departure of former Rep. Jason Chafftez, R-Utah, who gave up his seat early for private pursuits but may possibly be revived by Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah.
Noel said any federal land designation or trade that blocks public access or alters land management practices should first be shopped before the Utah Legislature to gauge approval and spark dialogue.
"It is one more vetting process," Noel said, emphasizing the bill does nothing to preclude future designations but simply loops in lawmakers on potential proposals.
"I don't think it is over restrictive," he said.Comment on this story
Noel said he believes the federal land designation in Chaffetz's bill and pushed by the now defunct Mountain Accord slipped under the "radar," even as lawmakers were worried about possible new monuments in Utah.
The bill, HB136, prohibits active lobbying by governmental entities for new land designations unless a conversation has first been broached with members of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee.
It does not impact private parties or nongovernmental organizations.