Utah group opposes placing National Parks under state control

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is among the groups opposing an effort to get National Parks and other federal public lands in Utah under state control. Photo credit: National Park Service.

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s the latest skirmish in the ongoing battle to determine who should control the millions of acres of federal land in Utah. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) contends that national parks and public lands in Utah belong to all Americans. That’s what the group’s attorney David Garbett said in response to Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock’s effort to get national parks under state control. 

“I think it’s just laughable,” Garbett said. “It’s unconstitutional for the State of Utah to take over public land. Not only is it unconstitutional, it’s bad policy – I mean, it’s wrong for us to try and take resources that belong to the entire nation.”

Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion are the five national parks in Utah. 

Citing last month’s government shutdown that closed the parks, Pollock said he and a handful of other rural county commissioners will now lobby state lawmakers to amend <a href=”http://le.utah.gov/~2012/htmdoc/hbillhtm/HB0148.htm.%20SUWA’s%20response%20is%20at%20http://bit.ly/19nybmm” target=”parent”>House Bill 148</a> to include national parks. The legislation, also known as the “Transfer of Public Lands Act,” requires that the state seek control of federal lands in Utah. Pollock acknowledged it probably means a lengthy legal battle. 

“We will probably end up in court, and probably end up in the Supreme Court,” Pollock said. “The thing that is in our favor, absolutely, is the fact that the federal government is making so many errors on public land.”

Under House Bill 148, the state is expected to formally request control of public lands in 2014. The governor signed it in March 2012. 

The bill is at <a href=”http://le.utah.gov/~2012/htmdoc/hbillhtm/HB0148.htm” target=”parent”>http://le.utah.gov</a>.

SUWA’s response is at <a href=”http://www.suwa.org/2012/03/23/the-facts-about-hb-148-unconstitutional-bad-public-policy-and-won%E2%80%99t-help-utah-schools/” target=”parent”>www.suwa.org</a>.

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