Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke
Cooke calls governor’s public lands suit ‘grandstanding’
Gubernatorial race » Democratic challenger pledges protection for outdoor recreation.
First Published Aug 14 2012 03:51 pm • Last Updated Nov 30 2012 11:32 pm

Gov. Gary Herbert is "grandstanding" by suing the federal government and risking the state’s outdoor recreation industry in the process, Democratic challenger Peter Cooke said Tuesday.

In a news conference at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Cooke said the governor and legislators are wasting state tax dollars on what he views as an unconstitutional reach for control of 22 million acres, when he should be negotiating for better access according to a reasoned plan. The governor, he said, has embraced symbolic lawsuits instead of making a case for developing appropriate lands and preserving others.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It’s just shooting from the hip and saying, ‘We’ll just sue the federal government on everything,’ " Cooke said.

The legal fight won’t save schools by providing state development funds, as proponents say, Cooke insisted. What schools really need is priority in the state budget, he said.

"In this one issue alone — which affects Utah lands and Utah schools — we have grandstanding strategies, instead of leadership," he said.

Herbert has said Utah’s schools depend on reasonable development of lands in the state, and on Tuesday his campaign spokesman said the legislation he signed does allow for negotiation before any court battles.

"In 1894, the state’s enabling act said we get the lands back," spokesman Marty Carpenter said, "and that has not come to fruition."

Besides signing HB148, a state law threatening court action if the U.S. does not cede to the state most federal lands outside of parks and wilderness areas, the governor has backed legal challenges to gain control over disputed transportation routes on federal lands.

An outdoor retailers association that hosts Utah’s biggest trade show in Salt Lake City twice a year has recoiled at the state’s efforts, and Cooke said the governor’s disregard for them risks losing both their $40 million annual economic contribution and the thousands of jobs that federal recreation areas support. He noted that federal funds aided this year’s wildfire-fighting efforts.

Cooke said if elected he would appoint a blue-ribbion commission to recommend logical places for energy and other developments, so he could negotiate with federal land managers with a blueprint. He said he also would assign the commission to identify lands appropriate for new wilderness designations.

story continues below
story continues below

"Utahns need to know that wilderness and recreation areas have my protection," he said. "They will know that I intend to preserve the natural beauty of our state."

Carpenter said Herbert understands the need to protect unique landscapes and is willing to talk to groups about how best to achieve that.

"The governor strongly supports protecting Utah’s wilderness," he said. "He understands Utah’s unique natural beauty does give us an advantage over other states."

On energy, Cooke said he would support tax credits to advance renewable energy sources — something Herbert has not done.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.