This land is whose land?

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

a Repub­li­can, signed a bill de­mand­ing that the fed­eral govern­ment re­lin­quish con­trol of more than 20 mil­lion acres of fed­eral land within Utah’s bor­ders by 2015.

The fed­eral govern­ment hasn’t shown any in­cli­na­tion to do so, but sup­port for the idea is grow­ing. Last month, Mr. Ivory and Mon­tana state Sen. Jen­nifer Fielder hosted more than 50 leg­is­la­tors from nine states at a Leg­isla­tive Sum­mit on the Trans­fer of Pub­lic Lands in Salt Lake City.

“It’s time the states in the West come of age,” Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke said in The Salt Lake Tri­bune. “We’re ev­ery bit as ca­pa­ble of manag­ing the lands in our bound­aries as the states east of Colorado.”

There is a rea­son Utah is lead­ing the drive. In Septem­ber 1996, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton cor­doned off 1.8 mil­lion acres of fed­eral land for the Grand Stair­case-Es­calante Na­tional Mon­u­ment in Utah. Crit­ics de­cried the move as a fed­eral land grab de­signed to boost Mr. Clin­ton’s stock with en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists in an elec­tion year.

Those op­posed to giv­ing fed­eral land to the states ar­gue that the lo­cals aren’t up to the task of manag­ing that prop­erty, ei­ther be­cause they lack the so­phis­ti­ca­tion or they are too be­holden to pri­vate in­ter­ests.

At the Salt Lake Tri­bune de­bate, for­mer BLM Direc­tor Pa­trick Shea said he op­posed the move­ment to put states in charge of fed­eral land within their bor­ders.

“I don’t think states are ca­pa­ble of the com­plex­ity of manag­ing these lands, and I think peo­ple like Rep. Ivory get off on these rhetor­i­cal pitches that don’t have a his­tor­i­cal ba­sis and they cer­tainly don’t have a sci­en­tific ba­sis,” Mr. Shea said.

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