This land is whose land?
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.