You’ve probably heard by now that the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office came out with a report last week detailing the potential impacts of transferring about half of all federal lands here to state control.
This is an issue because people all over the West are feeling the pain of being cut off from the land they love — and need — whether to make a living or recreate … and just to live a happy and fulfilling life.
And the truth is, the only one cutting off access to public lands right now is the federal government. Unless you’re young, wealthy, and healthy enough to get the gear and time to trek in, you’re seeing your access reduced by either regulatory and legal hurdles, or actual chains being put up across roads and trails.
These policies are being forced on us by people in far off Washington, D.C., who know nothing of the rural production economy … what it makes, how it runs … or the families who choose to live and work in it.
These D.C. landlords serve a different master and have different priorities. They’re an interest group as powerful as any in the nation, but funded by you. And their interests don’t match those of the people who live and work on the lands they manage.
The Utah report weighs in at around 800 pages, so I can’t even do a fair job of summarizing it in the four minutes I’ve got here. But its conclusion – arrived at by economists and scientists from three Utah universities – is that, yes, Utah can manage those lands in an economical and balanced way without sacrificing the beauty of the state, its quality of life, or its attraction to tourists and recreationists from around the world. And it can even turn (trigger alert, I’m going to use a word that some in the environmental activist community might find offensive and cause the vapors) [Utah can turn] a profit to help pay for other state needs in the process.
Cue the hue and cry from the for-profit environmental movement. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Center for Western Priorities, apparently after reading their own press releases instead of the actual study, immediately responded with boilerplate talking points and cherry-picked data respectively in their attempts to discredit the report. Read more