Utah public lands legislation puts federal control in cross hairs

Posted: Mar 20, 2013

Written by

Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM

The anti-federal theme that characterized much of the 2013 session reached far into the natural resources arena. The Legislature passed several bills and resolutions affirming state and local "sovereignty" over public lands, forests, water rights, endangered species and law enforcement.

Rep. Mike Noel’s HB155, aka "the sheriff’s bill," would bar employees of federal-land management agencies from acting in a law-enforcement capacity except in emergency situations. The Kanab Republican also sponsored HB382 designating a "grazing zone" over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It overwhelmingly passed, while a Senate resolution calling for protecting Greater Canyonlands was referred to interim study.

Other popular measures took aim at the Endangered Species Act, which one lawmaker condemned as "a federal tool that hurts us." The Legislature reauthorized a $300,000 appropriation to keep wolves out of Utah. SCR3 asks the feds to hand Utah prairie dog management to Iron County and HCR7, insists no private land be designated as critical habitat for the Gunnison sage grouse.

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