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News from American Lands Council

American Lands Council

Oct. 22, 2016

A legislative report in the State of Montana found that the federal government has blocked multiple use access on over 20,000 miles of roads on federally controlled lands, just in Montana alone, since 1995.

Now we have received word that the United States Forest Service (USFS) appears to have acted illegally in yet another attempt to keep the public out of public lands, but this time they destroyed trails that were part of nationally significant historic trail systems. 

This month the Board of County Commissioners in Lincoln County, Wyoming, filed a legal complaint against the U.S. Forest Service for unlawfully destroying segments of the Lander Cutoff Trail in at least four separate locations. Damage in three more locations was discovered after the original complaint was filed. Evidence clearly shows destruction caused by excavation equipment. The federal action came as a total surprise to state and local officials. According to the complaint, the USFS did not comply with federal law or consult with the Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) regulations as required by law.

Lincoln County senior planner Jonathan Teichert visited the sites twice to investigate and document the damage. The attached photographic evidence shows that the trails have been obliterated or obstructed to prevent all forms of travel. Rocks and branches are placed in the route, and deep trenches are dug out, making it impossible for hikers, horses, bicycles or motor vehicles to pass.

The affected trail segments are part of the Lander Cutoff Trail which was established in 1857 to provide safer passage for pioneers navigating one of the most challenging sections of the Historic Oregon Trail. The USFS is well aware that the Lander Trail has historical significance. The Bridger-Teton National Forest website, the Wyoming SHPO, and the BLM all have multiple sources stating that the Lander Cutoff Trail is a historical trail. The 1990 Bridger-Teton Land and Resource Management Plan documents the historical significance of the this trail system as follows: 

lincoln_county_road_1_Edited.jpg

“Travel though the southern edges and portions of the Bridger-Teton National Forest started in the late 1850s with the emigrant travel to California, Mormon Country, and the Oregon Territory. The west side of the Continental Divide, between South Pass and the Green River was one of the most difficult sections of the original Oregon Trail. A safer and easier route was needed for westward expansion and the Lander Cut-Off helped fulfill that need. Fredrick W. Lander, a surveyor with the Department of Interior, surveyed the route in 1857, supervised road construction the following year and from 1858 to 1860 built the entire portion of the road to California through the Bridger-Teton National Forest.”

Between 1830 and 1870, the Oregon Trail and offshoots were used by an estimated 400,000 pioneers. The eastern half of the trail was shared by those following the California Trail starting in 1843, the Mormon Trail starting in 1847, and the Bozeman Trail starting in 1863, before they turned off to their separate destinations. 

Lincoln County’s legal complaint includes a call for investigation of several Forest Service employees responsible for the damages. These people include regional foresters, directors, resource directors, and other Forest Service employees and officials. The complaint also requests that all employees involved in the situation be placed on administrative leave until the investigation is completed.

The full complaint can be found HERE.

We appreciate the efforts of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, and other elected officials who are standing up against the federal government’s destruction of public access on our public lands. This is yet another example of why we need to free our lands from federal bureaucracy and allow the people of each respective state to manage our public lands with local care and knowledge, so there is direct accountability for management actions.

Help us get the word out about The Only Solution Big Enough  — the transfer of public lands to state and local stewardship in accordance with the ALC Public Policy Statement. Responsible management of public lands will benefit our economy, our citizens, and our environment. Join us, and contact your local elected official to let them know it’s time to compel Congress to #HonorThePromise of Statehood so we can #UnlockOurLands, #RestoreBalance and manage our public lands with common sense for better access, health, and productivity.

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News update from American Lands Council

American Lands Council, Elections

It was just 4 1/2 years ago that Utah Representative Ken Ivory passed HB148 The Transfer of Public Lands Act with overwhelming support in the Utah Legislature. What was then laughed at by opponents has found its way all the way to the top political debates in the nation…the race for the United States President.

As was reported in The Idaho Stateman both Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton have been persuaded to make public statements about their intentions concerning the public lands of the West as this issue has been brought to the attention of the public through The American Lands Council and other like-minded groups.

“Trump Jr., 38, said his father would ‘keep public lands public and accessible,’ when he spoke in Grand Junction, Colo., Sept. 22.

“’We can have grazing, we can have energy, we can have hunting and fishing on the same lands.,’ he said to an audience of hunters, oil-patch workers, ranchers and their families. ‘We can multipurpose these lands, and we can do it in a way that’s smart and preserves the land and everybody wins, and we can see some of that prosperity come back to this country.””

Clinton’s position on public lands appears to continue in the direction of Democrat presidents before her. “Clinton policy director Jake Sullivan [said] Clinton would invest billions in programs to expand renewable energy — solar, wind, geothermal — by tenfold on public lands and expand spending through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which makes grants for park and open space purchases.”

Any way you look at it, the push to bring the public lands issue to the forefront of the American consciousness has been a tremendous success as individuals, counties and states have made their voices heard. Have you made your voice heard?

Please make yourself familiar with the Public Policy Statement of the American Lands Council, which was unanimously ratified by representatives from 14 states and know the rights of your state. Make your voice heard in your community by educating others and sharing the resources available.

 We thank you for being a part of the American Lands Council and this great movement!

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GOP adopts Public Lands language in national platform

American Lands Council, Federal gov & land grabs

Report from American Lands Council based in Utah

July 19, 2016

This week has been an exciting one for the Transfer of Public Lands movement as it has now been adopted into the language of the 2016 National GOP Platform as citizens throughout the country are recognizing that the health, sustainability and welfare of our lands, as well as our people, are dependent upon it.

Fear-mongers, desperate to maintain their power and control over the west have been frantically publishing articles with the same nonsense they have been spewing for years, claiming that the Republican party wants to do away with National Parks and Public Lands. But they know, as should you, that nothing could be further from the truth.

The actual language of this portion of the platform reads (see p. 21):

The federal government owns or controls over 640 million acres of land in the United States, most of which is in the West. These are public lands, and the public should have access to them for appropriate activities like hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. Federal ownership or management of land also places an economic burden on counties and local communities in terms of lost revenue to pay for things such as schools, police, and emergency services. It is absurd to think that all that acreage must remain under the absentee ownership or management of official Washington. Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states. We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands, identified in the review process, to all willing states for the benefit of the states and the nation as a whole. The residents of state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live. They practice boots-on- • REPUBLICAN PLATFORM 2016 • 22 the-ground conservation in their states every day. We support amending the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish Congress’ right to approve the designation of national monuments and to further require the approval of the state where a national monument is designated or a national park is proposed.

Notice, it says that “certain federally controlled public lands” to the states. What lands are those “certain lands”? The American Lands Council Public Policy, which was unanimously ratified by representatives from 14 states, makes this clear:

WE SUPPORT EXCLUDING EXISTING NATIONAL PARKS, CONGRESSIONALLY DESIGNATED WILDERNESS AREAS, INDIAN RESERVATIONS, AND MILITARY INSTALLATIONS FROM THE TRANSFER

True to their word, Utah legislators passed HB 276 in 2016, which specifically declares:

177          63L-8-104.  Declaration of policy.

178          (1) The Legislature declares that it is the policy of the state that:

179          (a) public land be retained in state ownership consistent with the provisions of this

180     chapter;

181          (b) public land may not be sold, except:

182          (i) as consistent with this chapter;

183          (ii) as consistent with local land use plans;

184          (iii) with the approval of the director and the board;

185          (iv) after sufficient opportunity for public comment; and

186          (v) for an important public interest;

Despite the inaccurate representations of the GOP Platform language by extremist groups, who are only interested in promoting fear and confusion, educated people around the country are realizing that this critical issue affects us all. According to Hotair.com,

“Why is the prospect of transferring much of this property to the states which encompass it such a controversial idea? Since when did the Founding Fathers want the federal government to be a landlord on this massive scale? This is hardly a conspiracy theory cooked up at the RNC. It’s a serious issue which is long overdue for a national debate.”

Thank you for being a part of this imperative movement. Thank you for sharing this information with your elected officials. Thank you for voting in the types of people who understand why local management matters. Thank you for helping the American Lands Council continue to educate the nation on the Transfer of Public Lands.

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‘Green Decoys’ preying on outfitters, sportsmen, outdoor recreation businesses

American Lands Council

American Lands Council
http://www.americanlandscouncil.org/

Here in the west, we want a healthy environment, abundant outdoor recreation, & safe, vibrant communities. But ‘one-size-fails-all’ federal control of our public lands is giving us just the opposite.

A recent email sent to outfitters and outdoor recreation businesses is attempting to bate recipients into swallowing an anti-Transfer of Public Lands message that doesn’t hold water. The sender — Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) — is a notorious front for left wing political operatives who pretend to care about sportsman but are actually quite averse.  See www.GreenDecoys.com.

As they target outfitters and other recreation businesses, opponents of freeing our lands from federal bureaucracies are employing the same exact scare tactics they’ve attempted to foist upon the general public and outdoor enthusiast throughout the nation. And make no mistake, these operatives are well funded for weaving their web of deception. For example, let’s take a look inside Back Country Hunters and Anglers. According to the website “Activist Facts”:

…BHA executive director Land Tawney, who ran the liberal political action committee (PAC) calling itself the “Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund” (MHA). In 2012, this pop-up PAC spent $1.1 million against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Denny Rehberg, who was challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. The liberal MHA also spent $500,000 in support of the libertarian candidate as a strategy of drawing votes away from the Republican. MHA received several hundred thousand dollars from the League of Conservation Voters, a liberal environmentalist group. Tawney is also a member of the Montana Sportsmen for Obama Committee and previously served as the National Grassroots Coordinator for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which, like BHA, is an environmentalist front that poses as a hunter and fisher group.

Taken together, BHA’s funding sources and leadership make clear that the interests of hunters and anglers are the least of their concerns.

Front groups like BHA exist to attack conservative ideas and leaders, especially those who support the growing movement to free our public lands from one-size-fails-all federal control. The opposition’s tired old talking points are always the same:

  • Transfer of federally controlled lands to the states is unconstitutional. (false)

  • States can’t afford to manage the public lands (false)

  • States will lock up or sell off all our public land (false)

  • Transfer of public  lands is just a fringe movement (false)

  • Transfer of federal lands to states is unprecedented (false)

Opponents almost always attach deceptive, negative innuendo to their talking points, such as: It’s just a “terrible” idea, or it’s “fraud” or “tantamount to snake oil” to even talk about such significant reforms in how our public lands are managed. Name calling and other suppression of speech tactics are the norm deployed by opponents who lack facts or substantive arguments.

We need your help in setting the record straight because, should outfitters and outdoor recreation businesses heed the green decoys’ fear-mongering, they could very well limit access to public lands, harm the wildlife, and pollute the healthy environments upon which their enterprises depend.

Talk to the leadership of sporting organizations and businesses and tell them the truth about the American Lands Council and our efforts to free the public lands from federal control:

  • The federal government, through its various agencies, is currently selling off and privatizing public lands, with little or no citizen input. Shifting to state and local governance of our public lands would provide transparency, accountability and give people a real voice in the decisions affecting our public lands.

  • Transfer of federal lands legislation is hardly fringe, and is currently working its way through several state legislatures and the United States Congress. In fact, the majority of people in several states now favor transferring some federal lands to their states so the lands can be better managed and protected.

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency and Fish & Wildlife have shutdown thousands of miles of multiple use access routes on public lands over the past two decades. The BLM is known to fine hikers for accessing public lands. The U.S. Forest Service uses a majority of its budget fighting wildfires, instead of preventing them through proper vegetation management. Their poor fiscal model often results in neglect or total abandonment of campgrounds, trails, roads, and other facilities.

  • State and local governments which manage their own public lands reap environmental and economic benefits, which is good news for ecosystems, wildlife and people. Read the research HERE!

  • Transfer of federal lands to states has occurred several times during the history of the United States. The fact that the federal government has not yet released its grip over the majority of public lands in the West  does not relieve Congress of the constitutional duty to do so. See the PDF report HERE!

  • Transfer of Public Lands is constitutional, and is in fact, necessitated by the U.S. Constitution itself. It’s simply not fair or constitutional to treat some states differently than others. The Utah Transfer of Public Lands act was studied and ultimately endorsed by an elite team of national constitutional scholars. Watch HERE!

  • Last but not least, wildfires on poorly tended federal lands, resulting from decades of politically-driven, “hands-off” policies, incinerate millions of acres of forests and grazing lands — killing millions of wild animals, polluting thousands of rivers and streams, decimating communities, and destroying opportunities for countless outdoorsmen and women EVERY single year.

It is clear that Green Decoys are politically motivated front groups whose goal is to frighten sportsmen, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts into supporting leftist ideals.

If you are a sportsman, outfitter, business owner, or simply an American who appreciates the value and grandeur of our precious public lands and resources, tell everyone you know about the Green Decoys (www.GreenDecoys.com) and their fear-mongering snake oil. Those who oppose state and local governance of public lands either don’t know the facts, or they support strict and oppressive federal controls that work against outdoor enthusiasts and the people as a whole. Don’t let them continue to poison our outdoors way of life.

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Ranchers, government leaders work to prevent another catastrophic wildfire season

American Lands Council, cattle, Federal gov & land grabs, FIRES, Forestry & USFS

PNP comment: Let’s hope the governments really are willing to work with locals and land owners and ranchers. These horrific wildfires must be stopped as they devastate wildlife, livestock as well as the environment! — Editor Liz Bowen

From American Lands Council —

April 6, 2016

Springtime is here. Most enjoy the beautiful flowers, hope for frequent showers and love watching the earth turn green again after the long winter months. However, for those living in the West, there is also a trepidation of the coming summer months, when the waters dissipate, the heat of summer months intensifies, and the mounds of excess dead timber, blanketing the forest floors, lie in consternation, knowing that a lightening strike or stray spark will sent untold acres into a blazing catastrophic fire, destroying wildlife, watershed and personal property for decades to come. 

This year, ranchers and government leaders in Washington State are working together to help prevent these devastating fires, creating contingency plans and greater oversight. We commend those who put their individual knowledge and experience together to protect their community and overcome the challenges that have been thrust upon them by failed federal policies. It is this type of cooperation that is needed, and will continue to be necessary when the states succeed in compelling Congress to transfer the public lands to all willing western states, as was promised in their enabling acts. 

Ranchers, government leaders work to prevent another catastrophic wildfire season

April 1, 2016 Komonew.com

OKANOGAN, Wash. — When the wildfires ripped through north-central Washington last summer, Nespelem rancher Dave McClure feared the worst for his livestock.

“I was informed by the Forest Service up in Republic that I had some burned cattle up there,” said McClure. “There was the desire to go up and try to grab them and move them some place but not the way the fire conditions were.”

The conditions were so devastating it burned more than 200 homes, destroyed infrastructure, and claimed the lives of three U.S. Forest Service firefighters.

McClure is still adding up his own losses nearly eight months after the fires — at least seven of his animals died in the North Star fire that also scorched his timber, rangeland, and fencing.

“That’s the overwhelming part. There’s 20-some miles of fence to rebuild,” said McClure, who is not alone in the losses suffered in the wildfires.

McClure was one of many ranchers and loggers who met with federal leaders on Thursday evening for a discussion about wildfire preparedness and how to prevent wildfires from jeopardizing their livelihoods for a third year in a row.

“They talk in terms of managing the fire they don’t talk in terms of putting the damn fire out,” said Omak rancher Craig Vejraska during the meeting.

Vejraska also lost cattle, timber, rangeland, and miles of fencing during the fires. He said it will cost about $15,000 per mile to replace his fencing.

Nearly 100 people packed the meeting at the Okanogan Fairgrounds, which included story after story of people who suffered losses in the fires. Some residents shared concerns about the lack of communication during the wildfire response in Okanogan County and suggested that the Incident Commander should be required to remain at the fire during the entire incident. Others shared frustrations about lawsuits being filed by environmental groups to prevent them from harvesting timber.

“I know they’re frustrated and these things take time,” said US Forest Supervisor Mike Williams. “When it happens to you. It’s a whole lot harder. We’re going to try to help them through it.”

For many ranchers, including McClure, the challenge now is trying to find grazing land that didn’t burn in the fires. The wildfires last summer scorched more than 520,000 acres across federal, state, tribal, and private lands. The situation forced some ranchers to buy more hay during the winter and, in some cases, sell cattle to reduce their herds.

“We were fortunate enough to find out places to put the cattle,” said McClure. “Our current grazing units and allotments are burned over. They’re requiring at least a two-year wait period before we can go back on them.”

McClure, who keeps his cattle on private, tribal and federal lands, will be hauling his cattle 80 miles from Nespelem to Ferry County where his herd will graze during the summer.

“I’m going to be doing a lot more traveling that way. I will be exploring some new country I haven’t been in before,” said McClure, who would usually be herding the animals to pastures closer to home. “(It’s a) learning experience. Like I say we haven’t done it before. We’ll find out when we get there.”

The state legislature approved about $7 million in funding to help landowners recover from the wildfire losses. A portion of that money will be given to the Okanogan County Noxious Weed Control Board to repair the damaged lands. The funding is still waiting for Governor Jay Inslee’s approval.

The Thursday evening roundtable discussion was organized by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and also included U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) who is the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry.

As the fire season is quickly approaching, we urge all citizens to work together with their elected officials and existing government programs to lesson the possible loss of life and property, while promoting the health of our lands and water, as well as important industries such as ranching in the West.

Please continue to work together as communities, and remember that those you elect this year will have a powerful effect on the health, safety and welfare of your community, whether those elected represent you on the city, county, state or federal level. So make sure they understand the importance of the Transfer of Public Lands and how your community will be greatly benefited by it.

# # #

American Lands Council
http://www.americanlandscouncil.org/

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House Moves On Bills That Would Allow States To Seize Millions Of Acres Of Public Lands

Agenda 21 & Sustainable, Agriculture, American Lands Council, Bundy Battle - Nevada, Bureau of Land Management, Constitution, CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL, Federal gov & land grabs, Forestry & USFS, State gov

PNP comment: This is a liberal news outlet that published this article. When you read all of it, you will certainly see the bias against rural America. But I published it, because it mentions the 3 new bills brought by conservative Congressmen. The situation is dire. Under the U.S. Constitution, at statehood the federal government must relinquish lands held by the feds to the state. That was not done after the Civil War. Hence the Western states did not receive their constitutional appointed lands. — Editor Liz Bowen

Think Progress.org

Less than two weeks after the arrest of Cliven Bundy and the armed militants who were occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider three bills that would dispose of vast stretches of national forests and other public lands across the country.

The bills, which will be heard in a meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, represent an escalation of the political battle being waged by the Koch brothers’ political network, anti-government extremist groups, and a small group of conservative politicians led by the committee’s chairman, U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT).

The first bill, introduced by Representative Don Young from Alaska (R), would allow any state to seize control and ownership of up to 2 million acres of national forests within its borders — an area nearly the size of Yellowstone National Park. A state would then be able to auction off the lands to private ownership or for mining, logging, and drilling.

The second bill, written by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), would give states and counties the right to take direct control of up to 4 million acres of national forests across the country for clear-cut logging, without regard to environmental laws and protections. A third bill, written by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), would turn over what the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance estimates to be 6,000 miles of road right-of-ways on U.S. public lands to counties in Utah, opening the door for road construction and development in protected wilderness areas.

These legislative efforts echo the demands of militant rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ryan and Ammon, that the federal government cede ownership of all national forests and public lands to state, county, and private interests. A federal grand jury in Las Vegas last week indicted the Bundys on conspiracy charges for leading armed standoffs with federal law enforcement officials in 2014 and in Oregon earlier this year.

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House Moves On Bills That Would Allow States To Seize Millions Of Acres Of Public Lands

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Regarding the Constitutional transfer of federal (public) lands to states …

American Lands Council

Feb. 10, 2016

From:

American Lands Council
http://www.americanlandscouncil.org/

Why would an eastern state like The Tennessee pass a resolution supporting the Transfer of Public Lands to the Western States? On January 26th, Tennessee Governor Hallam signed a resolution passed by their Legislature calling “on other states to pass a similar resolution in support of the transfer of the federal public lands to the western states.”
Some who are unfamiliar with the devastating affects caused by the failed federal policies waged on western public lands may wonder why the Eastern States would be interested in their transfer to all willing western states. But states such as Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas realize that while states east of the continental divide fund education, public safety and other essential government services largely through property taxes, western states struggle to provide these most basic needs because Congress lords the PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) over western communities “like some two-bit protection racket,” in the words of U.S. Senator Mike Lee. Just as importantly, they also know that those payments come at the expense of Eastern states who are forced to fund these payments to western states in order to keep them from using their own resources.

These Eastern States also understand that we all want healthy air, water and wildlife; Abundant outdoor recreation opportunities; and safe, vibrant communities. But one-size-fails-all federal management of our public lands is giving us unhealthy air, water, and decimated wildlife; blocked off and destroyed recreation access, and unsafe, economically depressed communities. We need to free the lands from federal bureaucracy so we can tend them more like a healthy, productive garden and less like a stuffy old “hands off, don’t touch” museum. With more effective local care, we can restore the balance we need to produce healthy air, water and wildlife; abundant recreation opportunities; & safe, vibrant communities. Who knows western lands the best? Who better to tend the environment in our state than the people who live here and care about our air and water and wildlife the most?

These Eastern States also understand that a threat upon any state’s sovereignty is a threat to every state’s sovereignty. As the U.S. Supreme Court recently admonished, “the constitutional equality of the States is essential to the harmonious operation of the scheme upon which the Republic was organized.” In other words, our constitutional system itself doesn’t work where the States are treated unequally. The basic rights of liberty, property and self-governance are essential to the proper balance in our unique system of government. As Thomas Jefferson warned, “it must be the states themselves erecting barriers at the constitutional line that cannot be surmounted…”

Since the founding of the American Lands Council in 2012, States around the West and across the nation have passed a variety of legislation towards bringing about the Transfer of Public Lands to all willing western states, and, with your support, the legislative efforts continue. Please be aware of the bills moving forward in your state and contact your elected officials to urge their relentless support for the only solution big enough to secure more effective local care and management of our unique western lands.

The American Lands Council urges all states, both those in the East and the West, to stand together and pursue the legal and constitutional means afforded to us under the U.S. Constitution to compel Congress to honor the very same statehood terms and the very same constitutional obligations to relinquish control over the public lands following statehood.

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$14 million price tag for public lands lawsuit gives governor pause

American Lands Council, Constitution, CORRUPTION, Federal gov & land grabs, Lawsuits, State gov

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he’s still reviewing whether he supports going forward with a proposed lawsuit against the federal government over its control of public lands, given the high price tag.

“I think the thing that gives us all pause is the cost,” the governor told reporters during his first media availability of the 2016 Legislature. “You kind of have to handicap (it). We’re going to spend $14 million and our chances of success are what?”

At the same time, members of the House GOP caucus were listening to legal arguments for Utah asserting control over public lands made by attorneys brought together by the Legislature’s Commission for Stewardship of Public Lands.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told the caucus it’s time for the state to make a decision.

“I think we’re coming together, finally, in a way we can accelerate the pace in terms of this argument,” he said. “Frankly, if we’re not going to do it, if we’re not going to move the needle on this, we’ve got to quit talking. We’ve got to do something.”

No position was taken by the caucus, but no one spoke against legal action. Members of the Republican-controlled commission voted in December to pursue a lawsuit after hearing that recommendation from the team of lawyers they’d hired.

The commission’s House chairman, Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, said the issue is “politically charged” and should be decided based on factual information. “This is an all-hands-on-deck issue.”

Another member of the commission, Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, said the price tag isn’t a consideration.

“The cost in my mind shouldn’t even be a discussion. It’s trivial,” Brown said. “How can you put price on self-determination and freedom?”

But the governor noted there’s no guarantee the state would win in court. He said he’d prefer to see Congress resolve the long-standing issue of having more than 66 percent of the state’s lands under federal control.

The public lands initiative recently unveiled by Utah GOP Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz is a “better, more sure way of getting it done,” Herbert said. Still, he said the initiative doesn’t exclude a lawsuit.

What would boost his enthusiasm for a court case, Herbert said, is for other Western states to join Utah in a lawsuit. Less than 5 percent of the land in states east of Colorado is under federal control compared with more than 50 percent in the West.

“I think there is discussion along that very line,” the governor said. “Having other states of like mind joining together gives us a stronger voice and helps share the costs. If that was to be the case, I would certainly welcome that.”

It will be up to Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office whether the state files suit, but lawmakers would have to approve the funds. Hughes said later that the $14 million price tag is an estimate that initially gave lawmakers pause.

“I think it did before, but when you put it in its context, I don’t think it’s as big an issue,” the speaker said. “What we’re talking about, we really need to get to a point where we need to move forward and make a strong case for this … or not.”

The speaker said a decision might not be made by the end of the session.

“I think if there’s a legislative will and we can have these conversations with our federal delegations as well as the governor, I would hope that by the end of 45 days we know more than we know right now,” Hughes said.

Contributing: Dennis Romboy

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865646445/14-million-price-tag-for-public-lands-lawsuit-gives-governor-pause.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Where is Rob Bishop’s promised lands bill?

American Lands Council, Congress - Senate, Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

Published: Saturday, Dec. 12 2015 5:05 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Rob Bishop’s much-awaited legislation promoted as the panacea to the divisive public land conflicts on 18 million acres in Utah remains under construction, months after he promised maps and language to thousands of interested parties.

Not to worry, the Utah Republican assures.

“My sooner has turned into later. My first effort is to do it the right way, and if that takes longer, I am sorry,” said Bishop, who is chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

But in the midst of delays and promises, anxiety over a large swath of public lands in Utah continues to grow, especially in light of a renewed push for President Barack Obama to declare a new monument and questions raised by skeptics wondering if Bishop can pull it off.

With fear that this administration — or the next — will make use of the Antiquities Act and tie up millions of acres of Utah land in a state already dominated by federal land ownership, people are checking the calendar, holding their breath and urging Bishop to quite simply, get it done.

“We’ve been wanting to see something since March, but we’ve not seen it yet,” said Emery County Public Lands coordinator Ray Petersen.”Through all of this, we will participate as long as it appears to be viable and appears it is going to work.”

Bishop, in a recent telephone interview from Washington, D.C., promises the wait will be worth it, even it stretches several more weeks or longer.

“The bill is going to be exciting. People will win and people will lose. They have to be willing to accept that fact,” he said.

The plan

Bishop’s so-called “Grand Bargain,” has been in the development stages for nearly three years. Its aim is to carve out land use designations in places where there has been inherent conflict over logging, oil and gas development, grazing and other industry activity and includes provisions for the establishment of new wilderness areas. It also includes protections for high-value recreation destinations.

The bill promises victory and some defeat to all the parties at the negotiating table in the eight impacted counties. It also includes a prohibition against any future presidential monument designation via use of the Antiquities Act — a component Bishop insists on being in the bill.

Some critics say prohibiting the presidential use of the Antiquities Act in eastern Utah under the Bishop bill could be a deal killer.

“Any legislation with an Antiquities Act exemption will fail, as a president won’t sign legislation that relinquishes this long-standing executive branch authority,” said Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Bishop said the whole point of his Public Lands Initiative process is to provide certainty — guarantees about acceptable land uses that county leaders, recreationists, industry and conservationists can count on in the years to come. That certainty can be annihilated with the swipe of a presidential pen via monument creation, so Bishop questioned the point of eking out such hard-fought compromises, only to have them effortlessly undone.

Ashley Korenblat, owner of Moab-based Western Spirit Cycling and heavily steeped in promoting the region’s recreation economy, has been a key player in Bishop’s land initiative.

She said she is optimistic that the public lands initiative can be successful, if it does not get derailed by ideology.

“The reality is there is a deal and all the pieces of the deal are on the table,” she said. “The question is whether ideology will blow up the deal.”

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865643606/Where-is-Rob-Bishops-promised-lands-bill.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Utah lawmakers consider lawsuit against feds for transfer of public lands

American Lands Council, Federal gov & land grabs, Property rights

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 9 2015 6:05 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers voted Wednesday to draft a lawsuit against the federal government with the goal of eventually transferring public federal lands into state ownership.

The effort has no precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court, but a team of lawyers says there is a chance Utah could take the case directly to the high court, which would cost an estimated $13.8 million or more in legal fees, in addition to more than $500,000 already spent on legal consulting on the issue.

It’s an expensive gamble as the Supreme Court may decide not to hear the case, much less order that federal lands be entirely turned over to the state. But Utah does have legal standing in policies that direct the future status of those lands, according to George Wentz, an attorney with the New Orleans-based Davillier Law Group.

“We are not saying that we believe that there is a high probability that the Supreme Court of the United States would issue an order transferring the public lands from the federal government to the state. We don’t believe the court will do that,” said Wentz, who was one of several attorneys from across the country hired to give a legal analysis of the issue.

“What we do believe is that there is a significant constitutional question as to whether the federal government has the power to permanently retain the majority of the land within the borders of the state of Utah,” he said.

Even so, members of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands said it’s worth the cost given the potential financial benefits to the state and resolution to what several legislators are calling “the greatest issue facing our state.”

“We recognize that this has not been an easy issue, that there’s risk in taking a stand on any issue, but certainly this is one that has been worth the study and analysis and development,” said the commission’s House Chairman, Keven Stratton, R-Orem. “We need to ask ourselves what is best for these lands and how can they best be protected and managed and strengthened going forward.”

A legal analysis of the case identified several legal theories that attorneys say give Utah’s case merit in federal court. One deals with the principle of equal sovereignty, which mandates that states have an equal level of independence. As an extension, lawyers also cite a claim of equal footing, which requires that states admitted to the U.S. receive all the sovereign rights enjoyed by the original 13 colonies, including the right to control land within their borders.

Another theory states that when Utah was granted statehood, the deal was made under promises that the federal government would “timely dispose” of public lands in Utah’s borders and those in other states. If the court ruled in favor of this claim, it wouldn’t necessarily require the federal government to transfer lands to the state. But it would restrict federal agencies from permanently retaining those lands, according the legal analysis.

Once the lawsuit is drafted, the attorney general’s office will decide whether to take it to the Supreme Court. Parker Douglas, chief of staff and federal solicitor for the attorney general, said “there’s arguably a case” for Utah, but it’s undecided whether it will be taken to Washington, D.C.

MORE

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865643391/Utah-lawmakers-consider-lawsuit-against-feds-for-transfer-of-public-lands.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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