Western states to feds: Turn over public lands

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  • massmanute Riverton, UT
    June 4, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    What a lot of people don't realize is that you can't "take back" what you never owned. Neither the State of Utah nor the Utah Territory ever owned the vast majority of the public lands in the state. The Federal Government acquired clear and undisputed title to the land in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in February 1848. This land came into the possession of the United States government with a clear and undisputed title. No state contested title, and no private rights had been established previously.

    Considering the fact that the Utah Territory was formed more than two and a half years later, it is clear that Utah never owned the public lands. They clearly belong to the Federal Government.

    Furthermore, both the Enabling Act and the State Constitution contain clear language stating that the State forever gives up any claim to the public lands. "Forever" is a long time.

    Furthermore, contrary to what some have claimed, there is no "promise" in the Enabling Act that requires the Feds must relinquish title to the State, other than in certain limited cases, such as the trust lands, which were in fact given to the State.

  • HoofHugs Greensboro, NC
    April 26, 2014 1:28 p.m.

    While managing America’s federally protected wild horses and burros is unlikely to be at the top o these governors’ priority list, they will be better informed if they realize that it is the history of the federal agencies’ mismangement of wild horses and burros, both those protected by the 1971 PL 92-195 (30 USC 16, 1331-1340) that is one of the most instructive red flags they have to work with. It is no secret that many in the West were not happy when Congress gave the right to manage America’s wild horses and burros to the federal government and there were a number of attempts fix this mistake. However, the alliance that eventually succeeded after 40 years of failed attempts is the one among members of FWS, The Nature Conservancy, and TNC’s shared experts that are also members of the Internation Union for the Conservation of Nature and NATURAL RESOURCES. According to 1993 OTA Report F-565, after FWS failed to implement President Carter’s Exotic Species Act (EO 11987), the IUCN’s legal team decided to write it into what became the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 8 (h).

  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    April 21, 2014 7:01 a.m.


    Exactly; miners and ranchers actually use land, produce product, and make profit. Rather than wasting federal tax dollars maintaining land that the federal government largely doesn't use and paying them to steal ranchers' cattle, these western states can make greater use of their resources, generate more revenue, and increase GDP.

    April 20, 2014 9:18 p.m.

    I am sick to death of people suggesting that those who want Utah to control their own land are out to destroy Utah's "pristine" wilderness. Sure Utah does have some pristine wilderness but much, if not most, of Utah is ugly plain barren desert. Development of this wasteland for oil or mineral deposits would be an improvement on the landscape. Why should Wyoming, Alaska and countless other states get to control their lands and mineral royalties and Utah not? Why should we be denied the right to tax royalties for the education and employment of our people? Why should we be second class Americans? We do not have to touch the Pristine only the barren wastelands.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    April 20, 2014 12:49 p.m.

    Utah has not even been able to maintain and fund state parks, and has even had to close some. The idea that states will be able to manage and preserve public lands is a pipe dream. The move to get control is mostly the state's wanting to exploit the resources on those lands, benefit a few who have the connections to get contracts or permits for that exploitation, and gradually diminish the pristine nature of these scenic and natural lands. I am amazed that it seems the general American public care more about these lands as national treasures than state governments and the locals who live there and only value them for their exploitable treasures.

  • deserthound Salt Lake City, UT
    April 20, 2014 11:46 a.m.

    Oh, the blatant blind hypocrisy in this statement is beyond comprehension:

    "They used to do a good job, but they are hamstrung now with conflicting policies, politicized science and an extreme financial crisis at the national level. It makes it impossible for these federal agencies to manage the lands responsibly any more."

    1) "Conflicting policies" - It's because of continual mindset of the robber barons, starting before the Teddy Roosevelt administration up through today including those who support this transfer of the public estate to private hands, along with exponential increases in the U.S. population that have strained our public lands far beyond their carrying capacity that have resulted in more stringent regulations on our public lands.
    2)"Politicized science" -No entity is guiltier of politicizing science than the far right. Whether contorting or denying the science behind climate change, wolves, sage grouse, water, etc., the far right is the guilty party.
    3) "Financial crisis" -If the land agencies don’t have the $$ to properly manage public lands, it’s directly a result of conservative members of Congress who purposely starve the agencies so they can indeed make this claim of failure.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    April 20, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    Maybe they should turn it all over and take the money with them. Close down the base and all the other fed installations. Utah gets 40% of it's revenue from the US government. Be careful what you wish for.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    April 20, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Proceed with caution. Many private landowners won't even allow fishing from a riverbank of a public stream or river. When the courts ruled against them the legislature circumvented the judicial branch and ruled in favour of the private property owners. Sean Hannity says it all. 'Drill Baby Drill".

  • stevo123 slc, ut
    April 20, 2014 8:11 a.m.

    Why was this meeting held behind closed doors? Anything being planned?

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 19, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    Turning over Utah's wild lands to eco-vandals with OHVs seems like a bad idea. Utah's parks and wilderness areas do not belong to and cannot be trusted to the residents of the counties in which they occur. They have not demonstrated the ability to be wise stewards or consider future generations' opportunity to enjoy our heritage.

  • spudlydoright McCammon, Idaho
    April 19, 2014 1:52 p.m.

    I cannot believe that anyone would want to give up the federal land in their states to the states to manage. All that they will do is sell it off to the ranchers and miners and who knows who else and then we will all be locked out of everything. Does anyone really think that state leaders have anyones best interest in mind here but a select few?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    April 19, 2014 9:55 a.m.

    Feds can"t even balance a checkbook, or run a decent education system.

    Why allow them to control state lands?

  • njpray Polson, MT
    April 19, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    This definitely should of happened a long time ago....but better late than NEVER!

  • watchman Salt Lake City, UT
    April 19, 2014 7:24 a.m.

    It's about time that the western states organize and legally pursue repossession of the lands within their borders that was promised to them at statehood. Until this is accomplished these states suffer a handicap in competing with their sister states that had public lands turned over to them years ago.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    April 19, 2014 7:17 a.m.

    And what will Utah do with the public lands once the state gets control of them? It costs the Feds $300 million/yr to manage them now--where will Utah get the $ to do it? What will happen to public access to those pristine lands once the state sells them off? What will happen to fragile landscapes once the rights to exploit are sold to the highest bidders, the lands are fenced and the drillers and miners and grazers move in? Does anyone really believe that our Republican leaders have any interest whatsoever in preserving the environment? Really? Do you really? Experience teaches us otherwise, as the Republican Party has fought every single environmental conservation measure you can name. Every. Single. One.

  • RCS Orem, UT
    April 19, 2014 6:23 a.m.

    When the Union was formed with the original 13 states, the promise was given that when other states were added to the Union, they would come in with the same rights and standing. This has not happened in the West where the Federal Government has withheld the right to the LAND of the states. It would not have been tolerated in the original states. It should not be tolerated by our Western states! GIVE US OUR LAND, which we have never had! There should be a national law passed that the Federal government cannot own more than 15$ of any state! At 68% ownership of Utah, we have not received our equal footing rights as promised. Thanks to Governor Herbert and other Western states Governors and Legislators for standing up for OUR RIGHTS AS STATES!