Transfer of Public Lands Act – Four Myths
Myth 1 – Utah is pressing forward with a 3 million dollar lawsuit that will take federal lands
- The executory provisions of HB 148 are conjectural and not justiciable in court. HB 148 instructs the United States to extinguish and transfer public lands’ title to Utah by December 31, 2014. The bill does not identify the actions the State will take if the federal government refuses to transfer lands.
- Utah seeks cooperative and constructive dialogue with the federal government on how to manage the lands.
Myth 2 – HB 148 is an irresponsible effort that will result in the destruction and despoiling of Zions and other pristine natural parks in Utah
- HB 148 exempts all National Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites managed by the National Park Service, and also congressionally designated wilderness.
Myth 3 – HB 148 is an excuse to sell lands to oil, gas, mining, and development interests
- HB 148 includes an explicit disincentive to sell lands. If the lands were transferred to the State and the State attempted to sell parcels of land, 95% of all proceeds would be paid to the United States for debt reduction and only 5% of the proceeds would be retained by the State to fund education.
Myth 4 – This is an unprecedented attack by Utah on the federal land ownership
- This attempt is neither entirely new nor partisan. In 1915, Republican Governor William Spry and the Utah Senate protested the federal government’s refusal to dispose of lands. In 1932, Utah Democrat Governor George Dern testified before Congress about a fair disposal of lands in Utah. In 1945, Democrat Governor Herbert Maw and the State Legislature sent a petition to Congress protesting federal land policies. In 1979, the State filed a suit against the federal government over federal land abuses. In 1980, Democrat Governor Scott Matheson signed a “Lands Reclamation Act.” Utah has sought to exert greater control over lands within its borders for over a century. The difference between this legislation and previous efforts is that it is a distinct and specific demand on the United States to honor its promise.