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Bill passes to outline how Utah would manage federal public lands

First Published      Last Updated Mar 12 2016 01:21 pm

Legislators gave final approval Thursday to a bill outlining how Utah would manage 31 million acres of federal public lands if the state were able to gain control of it.

The Senate voted 23-4 to pass HB276, and the House later concurred with Senate amendments. The bill now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his possible signature.

Its sponsor, Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, earlier said it would provide a framework for state priorities for managing that land, and define what agencies would oversee it. Legislators this year set aside $4.5 million toward a possible $14 million on a lawsuit to seek control of most federal lands in the state, which they contend Utah was promised at statehood.



"It will be managed for multiple uses and sustained yield," in sort of an "all of the above" approach for ranching, mining, grazing and wilderness, Noel said in an earlier hearing.

He added that his bill "is an overview. It's a policy statement. It talks about fees, it talks about income, but it's a work in progress. There is a process to go through we will defer to the greatest extent possible to local plans, to state plans to make sure we manage these lands in concert with the people that live there."

The bill calls for promoting grazing, wildlife development, mineral production, rights of way, outdoor recreation, timber production and wilderness conservation.

Noel promised that protecting wilderness would not be ignored.

It would create an 11-member public land management advisory board, with representation from various interests, including outdoor recreation, wildlife management, mineral development, agriculture, rural transportation and county commissions. Environmental groups get one seat.

 

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