Utah Moves to Take Control of Federal Land in Utah by Eminent Domain:
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Fed up with federal ownership of more than half the land in Utah, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert on March 27, 2010 authorized the use of eminent domain to take some of the U.S. government's most valuable parcels.
Herbert signed a pair of bills into law that supporters hope will trigger a flood of similar legislation throughout the West, where lawmakers contend that federal ownership restricts economic development in an energy-rich part of the country.
Governments use eminent domain to take private property for public use.
The goal is to spark a U.S. Supreme Court battle that legislators' own attorneys acknowledge has little chance of success.
But Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and other Republicans say the case is still worth fighting, since the state could reap millions of dollars for state schools each year if it wins.
More than 60 percent of Utah is owned by the U.S. government, and policy makers here have long complained that federal ownership hinders their ability to generate tax revenue and adequately fund public schools.
Initially, the state would target three areas for the use of eminent domain, including the Kaiparowits plateau in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is home to large coal reserves.
Many people in Utah are still angry that then-President Bill Clinton's designated the area as a national monument in 1996, a move that stopped development on the land and greatly pleased environmentalists as he ran for re-election.
Utah lawmakers contend the federal government should have long ago sold the land it owns in the state. Because it hasn't, the federal government has violated a contract made with Utah when statehood was granted, they say.
Eminent domain would also be used on parcels of land where Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last year scrapped 77 oil and gas leases around national parks and wild areas.
Utah Land Use Statistics:
The federal government controls nearly 65 percent of the land in the state of Utah, as opposed to states like Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York or Virginia where the federal government controls less than 2% of the total land mass of those states.
New York State has 30,216,320 acres only 234,000 acres of federal land. One percent of the land mass is federal.
Pennsylvania has 29,475,200 acres of land and only 677,000 acres of federal land. That amounts to 2.3% of the land mass.
Illinois has 36,058,700 acres of land and only 490,300 acres of federal land or 1.4%.
On the other hand ...
Utah has 52,696,960 acres of land, and a staggering 33,258,253 acres of federal land 63%. Nevada has 70,264,320 acres of land, and (are you ready?) 54,159,458 acres of federal land. That is 77%. Idaho 60%, California, 44.7% Colorado, 36% Oregon 52% Wyoming 54%.
Not only do they control the land, with the anti-development, preservationist philosophy which is currently in vogue, there is great pressure to restrict multiple uses of public land even though “multiple use” is the theoretical underpinning of the concept of “public land”.
Take Back Utah is dedicated to reversing this trend and securing local rights as defined by federal law. Federal land agencies must honor and obey the intent of Congress in the Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA) legislation that repealed the RS2477 statute, but preserved existing rights of way created prior to this act. To date, federal land agencies have yet to recognize one of those right of ways.
They have pushed cattlemen out of historical grazing rights, cut off access to mineral and other resource extraction, all at a cost to the well being of the nation, and to the very existence of local rural communities.
This imbalance must end. To do it you will have to become an activist. Take Back Utah urges your support.