Speaking at the Utah State Capitol, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) applauded legislation recently passed by the Utah State Legislature to transfer all federally-owned lands within Utah over to the state. Such action would improve the future of UtahвЂ™s public education funding through the appropriate management of public lands. Hatch and Bishop pledged to echo that call in Washington, and announced they will be working alongside stakeholders in Utah to develop a legislative proposal in Washington to increase stateвЂ™s rights.В
вЂњUtahns have always managed the lands within our borders far more efficiently and to better meet our needs than any bureaucrat in Washington ever could,вЂќ Hatch said. вЂњThe question of who should own the public land is not a new one here in our state, but I believe we are in a climate where, if we do it right, the lands in Utah can finally be under the control of our state. I was a leader in the Sagebrush Rebellion that started during my first term in the Senate, and I expect to see that transfer of land happen during my last term in the Senate.вЂќ
вЂњIt is time for a shift in the paradigm about use and control of our public lands. Utah has proven to be a far more effective steward of our lands and resources than the federal government and there is no good reason why ownership and control cannot be returned back to state and people where it rightfully belongs,вЂќ Bishop said.В вЂњAccomplishing this will be no small feat and will require efforts on many fronts.В Federal initiatives must be done in concert with state and local efforts and I look forward to working with our communities, local officials and legislators to ensure that Utah has the opportunity to grow, prosper and educate our children just like every other non-public lands state. I applaud the work done during this legislative session to gain greater control of federal lands within UtahвЂ™s borders and look forward to helping make these efforts a success.вЂќ
Hatch and Bishop were joined at the event by State Rep. Ken Ivory (who introduced the вЂњUtah Transfer of Public Lands ActвЂќ) and additional State legislators, former Congressman Jim Hansen, and members of UtahвЂ™s education, business, agricultural, and public lands access community. Bishop is the Chairman of the House Natural Resource CommitteeвЂ™s Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and Hatch has long fought to give Utahns more control over federal lands, starting with the original Sagebrush Rebellion.