Wild Horse and Burros on Public Lands

 

 

The Wild Horse is an icon of the American West. As such they were protected under the Horse and Burro Act in 1971. 43 years later that very protection may be one of the biggest threats to Wild Horses.

This week the program looks at the Wild Horse program administered by the BLM and  the challenges that land managers face following rules, regulations and laws that have been put in place to protect Wild Horses. We also met with County representatives who are frustrated by the issues created by the overpopulation of Wild Horse herds. The issues on the ground affect a number of users of both Public and Private Lands.

Tune into the program this Sunday at 8:30 am on ABC4UTAH to see the discussion. Or look it up on our You Tube Channel: (May not be uploaded until Sunday Morning)

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLum3SCQ9mGZTvVoJgnI38np2P-oa4ernj

You may also want to watch our previous discussion on County Councils from last week’s show.

http://youtu.be/Gv6j1yx4Sgo?list=UUutDmZVNNXEFm4J9ipI4LTg

Or you can find more details from the BLM:

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram.html

Including a great documentary on the Wild Horses and Burros:

http://youtu.be/eAmKRCH6908 Good Background

If you think you might have a solution to the Wild Horse and Burro problem check out the BLM’s prize challenge for a solution:

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/Prize_Challenge.html

Thank you for your interest in County Government and the important issues that affect your life on a daily basis. Below is a list of fun events taking place this weekend.

Great Events Around the State:

Tooele County:

Country Explosion July 17-20

Utah County

Casino Royale UTAH LAKE http://ayltv.com/casino.html JULY 19th

Jiggle Fest http://www.thanksgivingpoint.org/events/jigglefest JULY 19th

Sevier and Piute County:

http://www.candymountainresort.com/info/paiute-atv-trail/

http://www.blastfromthepastcarshow.com/ July 25-26

Rich County:

Bear Lake Monster Swim July 19

Alaskan Salmon BBQ July 19

Uintah County:

Dinosaur National Monument

 

 

There are some great local officials serving you.

One of the most surprising things I have learned during my 4 years producing The County Seat is how approachable county officials are. I’ve met some great people. It’s fun to see that we really are all just people. Even people who are elected. Enjoy. -Derek Dowsett

More Variety on the Menu or Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?


Utah’s Optional Form of County Government
How does a County Council work in contrast to a County Commission? That was the question we set out with this week on the program but we came back with a lot more than we bargained for when we sat down with Lynn Lemon, County Executive Cache County; Gene Ciarus, Grand County Council; Randy Horiuchi, Salt Lake County Council.

Tune in this Sunday Morning at 8:30am on ABC4UTAH to find out what happened or if you missed the program you can go to YouTube and watch it here:

Highlights:

:58 – Terry Wood describes the Council Form
6:47 – History of Councils in Utah

9:12 – Grand County Council
7:30 – What can we do here in the state?
10:41 – “The Knucklehead Government”
12:35 – Interacting with other offices within the County
14:52 – Budgeting
15:45 – Passing Ordinances
17:29 – Separation of Legislative and Executive Authority
22:37 – What is the value of Separation of Power among a council and executive or mayor?
24:17 – VETO Power
25:13 – Reverting back to the Commission Form
27:13 – The Cost of a Council
For more information about Counties and County Government go to:
http://www.naco.org/Counties/countiesdo/Pages/Why-Counties-Matter.aspx
http://www.utahcountiesmatter.org/

AND Subscribe to our YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/subscribe_widget?p=thecountyseattv
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You can watch our most recent episode here: http://www.thecountyseat.tv

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Also watch our other channel – At Your Leisure: https://www.youtube.com/user/Boothandcompany

Great events across the State.

Beaver County
Crusher in the Tushar / Butch Cassidy Festival
Carbon County
USRA Motocross Races
Duchesne County
101 Things to do
Garfield County
Boulder Heritage Festival
Iron County
Wild Flower Festival + Star Party + Shakespeare Festival
Juab County
Ute Stampede Rodeo
Millard County
Millard County Raceway
Rich County
Bear Lake Rodeo
Tooele County
Trail Maps
Uintah County
101 Things to do
Utah County
American Fork Steel Days
Washington County
ATV and Jeep Adventures
Weber County
Wild West Shootout
More Events
UAC Hidden Gems in a County Near You
If you have an event you’d like us to share please email Derek Dowsett.

Who is a County Commissioner and What do They Do?

A County Commissioner is a unique position in terms of elected offices within the United States in that their position holds both legislative and executive powers. This doesn’t mean they have authority over other elected officers, but it does give the office important powers for getting things done within the county.

Chad Booth sits down with Stan Summers, Box Elder County Commissioner; Kent Peatross, Duchesne County Commissioner; Bret Millburn, Davis County Commissioner to find out more about the role that Commissioners play in our daily lives.
Ria Rossi Booth takes us on a walk with the Utah County Commission to find out what the, Try a Trail with a Commissioner program is all about.
You can find out dates of the next Try a Trail Event Here: http://www.utahvalley.com/events/details.aspx?ID=3902

Who should manage public lands in Utah

The debate over management of public lands is not a new issue. It is becoming more top of mind for citizens though; particularly in rural communities who are often hit hardest by decisions that have a huge impact on daily lives.

We were at a debate on the topic of public lands a little over a month ago and the more we thought about how to best share that story it became apparent that we just had to bring as much of the debate to you the viewer as possible. In order to make the show fit into our half-hour window we did remove the opening statements in order to watch the entire discussion. You can see the whole debate at this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6RQzO-PMeY

or on the Salt Lake Tribune’s Site:

Salt Lake Tribune

This program is a little different in that we are simply providing you with the debate to watch. As you view the program I would suggest thinking about how public lands impact your life.

  • Do you recreate ?
  • Do you eat meat ?
  • Do you use energy ?
  • Do you live in a house ?

Okay these are some ridiculous questions but in one way or another you are probably impacted by the public lands that make up nearly 67% of the state of Utah.

Below are links to additional information that the debaters referenced.

HAWAII et al. v. OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS et al.

http://laws.findlaw.com/us/000/07-1372.html

UTAH’s Enabling Act

http://archives.utah.gov/research/exhibits/Statehood/1894text.htm

RS2477 Decisions from Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office Website

 http://publiclands.utah.gov/rs-2477-roads/plpco-law-library/

House Bill 148 Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study text

http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/hbillenr/hb0148.htm

Nevada Public Lands Report

http://www.scribd.com/doc/219675710/Nevada-Public-Lands-Report

 BYU Law Reveiw of the Transfer of Public Lands

http://americanlandscouncil.org/myportfolio/byu-law-review-transfer-of-public-lands-act/

 Grazing Fees

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21232.pdf

http://westernpriorities.org/2014/05/28/heres-why-ranchers-probably-wont-like-the-idea-of-states-seizing-our-federal-public-lands/

Recreation and Public Purpose Act 1952

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/lands/recreation_and_public.html

American Lands Council

http://americanlandscouncil.org/resources/

Full Transcript from the debate:

Jennifer Pierce:
Welcome to “Who Should Manage Public Lands in Utah”, an oxford style debate sponsored by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah and KCPW public radio 88.3 and 105.3 FM. Good Evening I’m Jennifer Pierce with the Salt Lake Tribune, I’ll be the moderator for this evening’s event. An illegal ATV ride in San Juan County, a dispute over Wild Horses in Iron County, Talk of another National Monument and an armed stand-off between a Nevada Rancher and the Federal Bureau of Land Management show that long standing tensions over who manages public lands are running pretty high right now in the West. Nearly 23 Million acres of land is managed by the BLM and tonight a panel of experts will debate the issue of who is best funded and best able to manage those public lands. The state or the feds. The resolution for the debate is as follows. The state of Utah is best suited to manage public lands within its borders and arguing in favor of the motion is Utah House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, she’s a republican from Provo who has served in the State Legislature since 1999. Here teammate state representative Ken Ivory is a republican of West Jordan and President of the American Lands Council which advocates the transfer of public lands to the states.
Arguing against the motion, Patrick Shea an attorney in private practice and former director of the Bureau of Land Management and Dr. Daniel McCool, a political science professor and director or the environmental and sustainability studies program at the University of Utah. Please join me in welcoming our distinguished panel.
[Applause]
Jennifer Pearce:
We’re broadcasting live before a full house from the Salt Lake City Library in Downtown Salt Lake City and we are being broadcast on KCPW 88.3 105.3 FM and a live video streaming is an option at sltrib.com. It’s great to see so many engaged members of our community tonight. It’s a full house.
The rules for tonight’s event are as follows, each team will offer times opening and closing statements. They will also have time to respond to one question from the tribune newsroom and one question from their opponents because we are on a tight time table again please hold your applause until the end of their statements and you will play a role in tonight’s event as well. We want a sense of how you feel about the public lands issue right now, so if you are in the listening audience, or the audience in the auditorium pull out your cell phone please, this is just like American Idol, you can get ready to send a text. Here’s the number send your text to the number 22333 I will tell you when to go, not quite yet. 22333, you’ll next type in the key word, the keyword depends on how you feel about this issue. Again our free debate question again is Utah best suited to manage the public lands within its borders. If you don’t agree type FEDS if you do agree type in UTAH. And hit send and we will see how the results begin to come in.
Jennifer Pearce:
There they go I’m glad you’re all figuring it out. Just a reminder it doesn’t matter if the word is capitalized but extra spaces are going to make a difference and if you have a texting plan where you are charged by the text I’m sorry you’re going to get a charge. You’ve got about 5 minutes to vote so go ahead and do it right now. One phone number = one vote and then we’ll shut down this voting session in a few minutes and vote again at the end of the program to see the powers of persuasion right before your very eyes. While you are voting I’d like to invite MORGAN LYON COTTI to the stage she is the state and local program manager with the Hinckley Institute she’s here with a brief introduction of the topic at hand and Dr. Cotti welcome.
Dr. Cotti:
Thank you for having me.
Jennifer Pearce:
First off you’ve done a fair amount of research on this for the Hinckley Institute as well as for the Utah Foundation. How much do people care about public lands issues in Utah?
Dr. Cotti:
It’s really interesting to see how the different groups view this issue. Surveys by Utah Foundation and Hinckley Institue conducted by Dan Jones and Assoc. in the past few elections showed that republican delegates view this as a very high priority, when asked about their top priorities they said state issues were their top priority and access to federal lands was another top priority. When Republican voters in genral were asked this question they also were concerned with state issues however not so much with federal lands, when all voters were asked neither of these issues really came to the forefront and a more recent proprietary pull done by Dan Jones and Assoc. found that one third of republican delegates viewed the overreach of the federal government as a very big concern for them however when we asked all voters, only about 14% saw it as a big concern so it’s really interesting to see this gap between these groups and who views this as a top priority.
This has been a real hot button issue for many many years can you put this into some historical perspective.
This has been an issue several times throughout Utah’s history. Most recently and visibly was the sage brush rebellion of the 1970’s and early 80’s this was in large part a reaction to a federal law passed in 1976 that stated all lands in the “public domain”  would stay under federal control. Several State Legislatures in the West took umbrage with this and tried to pass their own legislation to say they we actually in control of those lands. A bill like this actually did pass Utah’s Legislature and Governor Matheson said he would sign it if protections for the environment and endangered species was included, however a similar Nevada law was actually struck down by the courts which basically invalidated Utah’s issue or bill. Eventually this movement ran out of steam it wasn’t able to maintain the type of political support that is needed for large scale changes.
Jennifer Pearce:
As we precede with tonight’s debate what advice do you have in the listening audience for those here in the auditorium? What should they be thinking about, one thing they should be thinking about as they listen to our debaters.
Dr. Cotti:
This is a very complicated and multifaceted issue. Some people view this as an east west fight or an interregional issue others think this is a state rights issue, and still others view this a s the environment versus development and there is a very long history to land issues. Even going back to the founding of our country when 7  of the original colonies laid claim to the same land, so called western lands which were originally up to the Mississippi at that time. So throughout out nation’s history there’s been many decisions, many compromises made about federal aldns and  Utahns need to come to a consensus about what is the best course of action for our state and for our lands.
Dr. Morgan Lyon Cotti of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, thank you so much
All Right let’s get to the activity at hand, before the program the teams tossed a coin to determine who goes first and the winner was those who were in favor of the motion that the state of Utah is best suited to manage public lands, I’m going to call you team A. Team A has selected to go first.  So team A arguing for the resolution will go first, please step up to the mic you will have six munites for your opening statement starting now.
KEN IVORY
Jennifer, Pat, Dan, Professor Cotti, honored guests and friends I’m honored to be here to discuss this question. This important critical question, who should manage public lands in Utah. This is not a new question in fact it is older than our nation. The real question though is whether we will be managed of the people, by the people, and for the people or whether we will be managed of the bureaucracy, by the bureaucracy, and for  the bureaucracy. You know that King George and his ministers they deemed the colonies incapable of handling the complexity of managing their own land. That led to the establishment of a totally unique form of government a government based upon a partnership between the state and federal government to secure the rights of liberty and property and self-governance this is where the public land question begins. In 1780 you see the nation was in the middle of the revolutionary war, and they were out of money and it was the states that stepped up and as professor Cotti said it was the states that controlled the western lands and they stepped up  and said we will grant our lands to you national government in trust on two express conditions that you only use the lands to create new state with the same rights of sovereignty  freedom independence of all of the other states and you use the proceeds to pay the debt of the war.
They reaffirmed this trust arrangement in 1784 in 1787 and in the constitution where it says that congress only has the power to dispose of these lands and in no way to change any of the right so the states to have the federal government transfer the title. From 1780 until our statehood courts, congresses and presidents reaffirmed that the federal government only holds territorial lands in trust for the states ultimately be created. Not many decades had passed and this conflict between government of the people and of the bureaucracy raised its ugly head again.
Western states you see could not be trusted to manage their own lands and for many decades the then western states were as much as 90% federally controlled for decades and they were stifled for opportunities to fund education to grow their economies they said. The founding principles of self-governance were so ingrained in the DNA of these states that they refused to take no for an answer and it was Illinois, and Missouri and Arkansas and Louisiana and Alabama and of course that great western state of Florida. That bandeed together to compel the federal government to transfer title to their public lands. You see this has already been done before. And their statehood agreements have the same Utah enabling act agreements that many bureaucrats and other refer to to say to deny Utah from the right and the privilege of managing our own lands and lives and resources. This has been done before. It was in 1896 that Utah was made a state with the same statehood terms as North Dakota and all the states east of Colorado. The promises are the same; by 1915 the Utah legislature demanded the president and the congress for a speedy return to the policy of transferring the title to the public lands.
They said and I quote and the letter of the 1780 land grant to the national government and in conformity with the terms of our enabling act for the strength of the nation that this should happen. By 1932 the western states again were pushing against bureaucratic control and trying to compel congress to transfer title to public lands, a bill was proposed for granting public lands to the states but the federal agencies opposed the bill unless it left complete control of all of the minerals with the agencies. Governor George Dern Democrat of Utah remarked that the western states appreciate the compliment that they are now grown up enough to be trusted to take care of our surface lands more wisely than the federal government but the question remains as to why they are not wise enough to manage the minerals. Governor Dern and the Western States rejected this proposal to take everything that is worth anything at all and leaves the states with nothing but the skin of a squeezed lemon.
By the mid 1980’s Governor Scott Matheson Democrat of Utah wrote of federal control, “the federal government’s influence has become more pervasive, more intrusive, more unmanageable, more inefficient, more costly, and above all more unaccountable. Any federal solution of the budget deficit will almost inevitably include a major return of responsibility to the states” and he said the states are capable and ready for this challenge. Today the economic and environmental urgency is so apparent as Governor Scott Bullock, Democrat from Montana said just last year at the Western Governor’s Assocaiton, you know Utah and Montana manage millions of acres of public land for multiple use. And they do it while still protecting endangered species and habitat but on the federal lands the story is not the same he said, wildlife habitat is degraded, watersheds are at an extreme risk, endangering fisheries and clean water fire danger off the charts threatening communities and stifling recreation. They put together a diverse group of Montanans that spent years coming up with a plan they could all support and it was when they took their plan to Washington that Washington isn’t interested in finding solutions. Yes they know the congress is too polarized, yes the forest management is broken, but no they can’t do anything about it. He said no it’s up to westerners to bring forward answers. You see it’s clear that not only can Utah afford to manage our public lands to fund education and better care for the environment and grow our economy both locally and nationally. Quite simply we can’t afford not to.
[Applause]
Jennifer:
Team B arguing against the resolution Pat Shea. You have six minutes starting now.
Pat Shea:
Thank you very much
I’d like to thank Becky and Ken for participating in this common square tonight. I think it’s in the best tradition of Utah and the United States. We have a free and open debate, I think it is important that we also recognize the importance of sharing responsibility for many different problems we face. The concept in Utah of putting your shoulder to the wheel is something that I’ve always felt very important having been born in this state and having live here now for many many years as my young children will tell you.
I do think there are some important issues that are being glossed over. When the revolutionary war was completed each of the 13 states decided that they were going to maintain their independence, so we had an articles of confederation and that simply did not work, so literally 227 years ago today 55 men met in Philidelphia and becan working on what would become the federal constitution because they understood the importance of having a united government as opposed to a divided government. They also following Montesquieu believed there should be a challenge between the three branches; the executive branch; the judicial branch and the legislative branch. Unfortunately over the last 20-30 years really began in 1980, the federal government has become the popular enemy of many people in Utah and in the West. In many ways it is understandable, there are decisions that had to be made that weren’t popular and somebody in Washington seemed to be taking responsibility. I don’t disagree that there are was in which some lands in Utah or other states in the west could be better managed by state government but there are processes in place. Change is not like a light switch, even though ken Likes to talk about what has to happen under the enabling act, the kind of change he’s talking about doesn’t simply go on or off. There is a thing called the recreation and public purpose act where when I was director of BLM we rationalized different landscapes by letting cities, counties, states and not for profit organizations assume control, management and in some instances actual ownership of public land but it was done on a rational basis, it wasn’t I’m in charge here and you’ll do it my way all you have to do is go down to Kane County and see the oil spill that was discovered there on lands that had been managed by the state when the grand staircase was created it was taken over by the feds and it took over 17 years to discover where some invaluable public lands had been harmed by irresponsible oil and gas exploration on those public lands. So I think it is important that we look at the 150 years that the taxpayers of the United States have been paying for the lands that now Utah wants to take. Are the citizens of New Jersey or Washington State or New York going to sit back and say oh no go ahead take those lands, those 22.9 million acres of land in Utah you can have them. A more rational approach in my judgment would be much like what was done in Arizona. Governor Babbitt, later secretary Babbitt went ahead and worked with the federal government to divide up the crazy mosaic landscape. You have to understand the lines of the boundaries that we now call Utah, Wyoming, Nevada were draw literally by drunken surveyors who were paid by how many miles they could get done in a day. There was no attention paid to whether it made ecological sense. And then we decided quite wisely that there should be some school trust lands so they were made arbitrarily in this mosaic fashion. Arizona what Gov. Babbitt later Interior Secretary did was work with the Federal Government so that the tribes, Arizona State and the Federal Government could have allotments of land that were together so they could be managed more systematically. I would suggest with all respect, Becky and Ken look at this kind of plan so that the mineral assessment could be made and that could go to the states but the lands along river areas where the biodiversity most important, areas that are established wilderness study areas, they should be part of a national treasury that we keep for future generations, future legacies where the desire to develop those lands for mineral or building purposes, could often trump the processes. I did a history on City Creek canyon and it was interesting to me going to City Creek canyon that Brigham Young was one of the environmentalists this state had. He was so upset with what Parley Pratt had done to Parley’s Canyon, Emigration Canyon, he took ownership of city creek canyon and closed it to anyone. No one could go there unless they had written permission from him. So today, Utah Salt Lake City gets 33% of its culinary water because there was that kind of vision it’s that kind of vision that we need for the future of these public lands. We should come up with a solid way or solution that will allow us to hand over to future generations the kind of legacy that Brigham Young left us. Thank you.
[Applause]
Alright team A it’s your turn. Your six minutes starts now.
Becky Lockhart:
Thank you.
During my 16 years in the Utah legislature and the past 4 years as speaker of the house most people have come to know me as someone who has a bit of a reputation of harshly criticizing the federal government. And federal programs. What most don’t know however is that my father was a dedicated federal employee for nearly 4 decades. He was a proud employee of the department of agriculture with United States Forest Service the agency charged with the proper care and stewardship of our national forests. He was a district ranger on two of those national forests. And he would spend hours and hours on his beloved horse Ace, Surveying and planning for the health and safety of the public lands. He put up with a fair amount of ribbing from other rangers because he was among one of the first to have a masters’ degree in his field but it gave him some particular foresight all those years ago into the looming management problems we are seeing play out today. He say forest land management plans become a farce, as arrant policies, a flood of litigation, and an ever growing national debt resulted in hundreds of millions of animals being slaughtered by wild fires or over population. He watched as watersheds and innumerable acres of forest were systematically destroyed through inattention making the land significantly less productive for future generations.
The federal agencies are suffering the consequences of outdated and erroneous policies and processes. Now is often the case, the competent and professional line officers on the ground know how to execute good plans. But they have been hamstrung by an unaccountable bureaucracy thousands of miles away. A bureaucracy easily swayed by those who whisper politically policy imperatives in their ears.
The results speak for themselves. National Parks as well as the BLM Lands and National Forests are billions and billions of dollars behind in maintenance; Bark beetles have devastated millions of acres across the west. Creating future catastrophic losses of wildlife vegetation and watershed.
Now speaking of the bark beetles, the forest service is just now getting around to mitigate years of poor management decisions on the Dixie National Forest. For years the bark beetles have been destroying that forest leaving it a massive fire hazard. Proper management dictates the problem should have been addressed when it was in its early stages, when our own state forester recognized the problem. Instead of federal planning has led us to what I call management by emergency. We have a federal government running around attacking the symptoms by quite literally putting out fires. Instead of addressing the problem itself, when it only affected a hundred acres. Instead of 36,000.
How does this come about? Obviously land management is a complicated thing but one statisitic stick out. In the 1980’s the forest service was spending 70% of it’s budget on management. That number is now just 30%. Where has that money gone?
Fire suppression, a necessity due to poor management. Administrative support and litigation.
When we tlak about managing by emergency just today it was reported in the press that the BLM was granted emergency approval to remove 200 feral horses from Utah range land. This one issue tells you all you need to know about the state of federal public lands management. An unmanaged and unhealthy herd is wreaking hazoc on a portion of our state and the BLM has to grant emergency approval to handle it. Well managed systems do not govern by emergency approval. In contrast, the deer, elk and Bison herds throughout Utah are managed by state agencies. These animal populations are healthy and thriving because Utah’s division of Wild Life resources has implemented long term strategies that work. Highway fencing, wildlife underpasses, predator control; this is how you properly manage public lands. When it comes to National Parks we don’t have to look to far back to see the problems with the federal shutdown. Our national parks are vital to Utah’s economic health as well as our reputation as a premiere destination. They were simply shuttered as not essential. Utahns know they are absolutely essential and it was only with the combined efforts of the legislature and governor Herbert that we were able to reopen them with our own state money. We’ve proven that we can manage the lands we control now by implementing scientifically based plans that preserve wildlife, wilderness recreation and tourism. Utahns will be the best at managing all of the public lands within our borders. Thank you.
[applause]
Jennifer:
Team B You’re up. Dan McCool the floor is yours. Your 6 minutes starts now.
Dan McCool
Thank you Jennifer and thanks to KCPW and the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, this is precisely the kind of discussion that we need for this kind of issue. Hi everybody thanks for coming out tonight. You can tell how much we care about public lands just by how many people showed up tonight, so thanks for being here. I want to talk about a little historical context here ad set the legal framework for tonight’s debate. Now I’m going to talk about three things that I consider to be myths. First myth, quote the federal government made a promise to transfer title to public lands. I took that directly off the American lands Council Website. In Fact no law or Supreme Court case has ever made that promise. No law or Supreme Court case has ever promised that there would be an equal amount of public domain lands in every state. Here’s what the constitution actually says about the disposal of public lands. I’m going to quote you directly from the US constitution. The Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations that’s all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States. Indeed the US congress elected by the people has done that. They’ve passed a lot of laws regarding how to manage and dispose of public lands. In the 19th century they passed a whole series of giveaway laws the homestead act, the general mining act, the timber culture act, the desert land act, multiple railroad land grants. In total the federal government very generously gave to the Western States , Corporations and Individuals living in the West 1.3 Billion Acres of Land that used to be in the public domain. So they have given a lot of land to people in this area. Now in the 20th century the policies began to change and congress changed the laws in response to changing American Values and a changing economy. In 1976 Congress passed the Federal Land Policy Management Act sometimes called FLPMA. And FLPMA sets up a multiple use regime for the public domain lands and it is the organic act for the modern Bureau of Land Management the BLM. Providing for multiple uses when there are so many claimants and so many different stakeholders is a very difficult job, but they do it. They are doing it and it’s not just the recreationists or the environmentalists. In Utah 22 Million acres are in grazing permits with 1,462 grazing permitees. In Utah there are 3.8 million acres in oil and gas leases on BLM lands with 3,574 permits and there’s all kinds of recreational activity on BLM land both motorized and nonmotorized. And those lands form the heart and soul of our economy. They are crucially important. If you look at where Utah gets its money the biggest chunk comes from the federal government, the next biggest chunk is tourism, and recreation. Those lands are crucial to our economy.
Myth number two. At statehood the federal government promised all newly created states that it would transfer title to our public lands. Again that is directly from the website of the American lands Council. In fact exactly the opposite promise was made. Let me read directly from the Utah enabling act. This is the ACT that setup the state of Utah. It says,”The people inhabiting said state do agree and declare that they forever disclaim right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying in the boundaries thereof. Forever, not til 2014 or 2015, forever. However, the US government continued its policy of giving western states lands and there’s a long list of lands that are allocated to the new state of Utah. They include all of the School trust lands, that’s all formally public lands, land for the University of Utah, a really incredibly smart thing that they did there and land for a variety of other schools but it ends with this statement to remind the state of Utah of the situation. Again quoting form the Utah enabling ACT. “The said state of Utah shall not be entitled to any further or other grants of lands for any purpose than is expressly provided for in this act. And myth number 3 I keep hearing people say we got to get the land back for Utah get the land back. This land has never been in Utah hands, never, the United States fought a war of aggression against Mexico and took this in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 and it’s been public federal land ever since then. Thank you so much.
[applause]
Jennifer:
You are listening to who should manage public lands in Utah a debate sponsored by the Salt Lake Tribune, Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah and KCPW from the City Library in Downtown Salt Lake City and at SLTRIB.com you can also hear us at 88. And 105.3 FM.
Now the time for a couple questions from the tribune newsroom. Team A you are arguing for the motion I don’t know if you want to both step to the podium or not.
I’m actually going to give you three questions and you can choose which to address. Both of you have talked about the enabling act and maybe representative Ivory you can tell us exactly where in the enabling act you  say that the transfer of public lands should come about. The second question is the cost for the state of Utah. It cost the state 9 million dollars to reopen nine national parks during the 16 day federal government shutdown last fall. $9million for 16 days if the state takes over public land management how are you going to pay for it and the third question is you both sort of eluded that the government closest to the people works better but is there some value in having some distance from local political and economic pressures and you can each decide how you want to attack this.

Ken Ivory: Let me read an enabling act to you it says the people inhabiting the state forever disclaim all right and title to the waste or unappropriated public lands. That’s Alabama’s enabling ACT and they have less than 5% federally controlled lands and it’s Louisiana’s and Oklahoma’s and North and South Dakotas, and with respect to a policy change the supreme court, which is what opened the door for us, 5 years ago the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that the consequences of a state’s admission are instantaneous and it ignores the uniquely sovereign  character of that to even suggest that somehow subsequent acts or policies of congress can diminish what was already bestowed at statehood. Particularly where all of a state’s public lands are concerned.
You see the enabling act is a solemn compact with rights and enforceable obligations on both sides. That’s the United States Supreme Court and that’s all that Utah is asking for that they honor the same statehood compact that they kept with North Dakota. North Dakota that has 20,000 jobs just looking for people. They are putting billions of dollars right into schools and school buildings and roads and they manage their own land.
With respect to your question on do we need some buffer on local control, that would seem to suggest that there is no political dynamic or control in Washington. We have a federal government that is 1.3 Trillion dollars indebted to the Chinese, we have a federal government that has 83,000 pages of regulations, that are run through, so to think that this is a situation that would only happen on local control at the local  level we do this we get to meet with people we get to get out and you know my phone number you know where I live, you get to choose your representatives and 10 or 20 people can change your representative at the local level where you meet directly with them that doesn’t happen at Washington where you have that responsiveness and responsibility accountability for the lives and livelihoods on the ground.
SLTRIB
Time we’ll have to catch the money question later.
Team against the motion…
You say there is a distrust of the federal government and that’s understandable why do you distrust state government?
County officials are frustrated with the grid lock and bureaucracy of the BLM and the forest service. Why is managing public lands so complicated and how would you suggest making the process more county friendly.
You say the federal government has the expertise to do this job best, but here living in the state we have you Pat Shea, Former BLM director, We have another former BLM director Kathleen Clarke working for the Herbert administration there are people living here with expertise on point what is the difference whether the feds manage or a qualified team of locals at the state level.
Pat Shea:
I’ll answer the first and third and my professor friend will answer the second one. The answer to the first one is John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.
{BOO}  {Yea!} please hold your applause
The answer to the third on is we don’t have the funding, when I was director of the BLM we increased the finding for fires. There had been a policy in the republican and democratic administrations of putting the fire out as soon as it appeared. Sec. Babbit and president Clinton developed a policy to begin letting forest fires do what they do well and that’s get rid of these processes that have been over burdened. I don’t disagree with Becky and her father who was an expert on that but again we need to cooperate as we have been doing on these fire situations for the last 2 years. Governor huntsman created an integrated force of county, state and federal fire fighters that have worked well and will continue if we quit getting into these false debates.
Dan McCool:
Here’s why managing public lands is so difficult, in Utah in 1950 the population was 688,000 today it is over 2.8 million. The us population in 1950 was 157 Million today it is 314 million. There are 314 Million owners of the public lands, so there is a lot of input, a lot of interest and balancing those is a very difficult job. I frankly think the blm has actually done a pretty good job under very difficult circumstances.
SLTRIB
At this time each team gets to ask the other team one question
Becky Lockhart:
We belive that we have established that the states not the federal bureaucracies have history on their side when it comes to who should manage public lands. We’ve shown that the results of ignoring the very nature of our governing partnership has led to a federal bureaucracy trying to manage those lands is billions of dollars behind in maintenance, burning down national forests, killing untold numbers of animals and devastating air quality and watersheds for generations. They are shutting off access all over the west and shutting down our national parks as nonessential.
While we understand that you might not want to answer this directly, we’d ask that you would; do your best to explain why Utahns might be inclined to trust the same federal bureaucracy to properly manage public lands going forward.
Pat Shea:
Interesting question and I would simply look at what I did when I was director of BLM. We came in after the 1994 election where there was a contract for America or some people said on America the BLM had 12,500 employees when the Clinton bush transition happened. We had it down to 9500 we reduced the size of the BLM last year , actually in 1989 (I think he meant to say 2009) when the Obama Administration took over, it was back to 11,500 I found in the hallway of the director’s office more than half the people there were republicans that came in as political appointees and then metamorphosed into civil servants. So what happens is you were burrowing in as republicans to take over these different quote bureaucracies because they were fairly steady jobs, so I don’t think the question of Bureaucracy is the problem at the federal level it exists at all levels of state organizations or federal organizations. And any large organization, try to get a hold of google as I did today and I was on hold for two hours because they have this automated system so I don’t think with all due respect that bureaucracy is the problem. The problem quite frankly on the land management side is the constant cutting of budgets, and not funding adequately those people who need to do the job that needs to be done on our forests on our public lands and particularly on our water ways for the last 23 years we have been going through this delusional process that somehow the very wealthy shouldn’t pay their fair share of taxes and instead we should deprive the public servants from doing their duty. We’ve got to change that or we will continue to have these wild fires that burn out of control, our waterways will be polluted and as climate change hits harder and harder we will not have the resources at a federal level to deal with them. So I think it is time to come up with some resolutions some good thinking about what is going on and instead of getting into these artificial debates of us versus them it’s all we. We are the people of the United States, we ought to solve our problems and I hope that we are able to move ahead on that and  I’ll sit down so you have more time to have discussions.
Dan McCool:
Part of the reason that public lands today are so difficult to manage is because of short-sighted policies in the past. We made some bad decisions in the past regarding overgrazing, and the way we managed timber and today we are suffering the results of those short-sighted policies. We are in an adjustment period where we are trying to change that, but it’s going to be difficult and we’re going to have some serious problems. Changing those policies and coming up with adaptive sustainable management plans costs money and that means we can’t underfund the initiatives like that and expect them to actually survive and on the flip side the other problem we have is we continually subsidize extractive industries and the kinds of things that actually damage the land the most.
If you want to pay for those things you should have to pay for them not in your tax bill but when you actually buy the product, so if we quit subsidizing the damaging industries and activities and we start caring for the land in a long term sustainable manner we can solve these problems and let me reiterate something that Pat said and I think this is really important, it’s not the state of Utah versus the United States Government all of us are citizens of both of those entities it’s the  state of Utah working with the United States Government it’s all of these entities working together collaboratively. That’s how we solve problems when we get together and we think and we communicate and listen we can actually solve problems and I think that is the way to go thanks.
Pat Shea:
Ken during the Salt Lake Tribune webcast I asked did you support or did you oppose what cliven bundy had been doing in southern Nevada and I never got an answer and I think the people tonight are entitled to an answer to that question.
Second question, we the state of Utah has spent more than $10M on rs2477 roads, we’ve yet to have a single judicial victory on that question. We have wasted the education of 2000 Utah students on money we’ve wasted on figmented  judicial decisions.
Dan McCool
Ken Everything that I read directly from the Utah enabling act and what I would like to know is do you remember the movie where they said show me the money? I want to see the language that actually makes the promise that you keep referring to, give me a citation, give me a court case give me a law give me some kind of information on it.
Ken Ivory
This is not a debate about a rancher in Nevada this is so much bigger than that, that’s why legislative leaders from all over. people are frustrated all over the west as we’ve mentioned governor Bullock from Montana, fire is devastating the land and the wildlife, habitat, watershed, this is an issue impacting the entire west that is why legislative leaders from all over the west have got together to restore balance in our governing system that is clearly out of balance.  With respect to the enabling act, it says the people inhabiting the lands forever disclaim forever right and title, until. If you read the rest of the sentence it says until title to shall have been extinguished and then it also says that 5% of the sale of public lands which shall be sold, shall be paid to the state to support the common schools.
{No Cat Calls Please}
Becky Lockhart:
I want to address one of the things that was brought up that had to do with the cost to reopen the national parks and I think it is important that we address one of the myths that is coming from the federal side and that is somehow the state of Utah wants to take over the national parks. HB148 made it very clear that Utah has no interest in taking back or having transferred to her the national parks, there are 5 national parks, 7 national monuments and historic sites, and 33 congressionally designated wilderness areas those are off the table, we’re not talking about those we hope everyone will stop talking about those areas because we agree with those, those are congressionally designated national parks national monuments and wilderness areas, and we enjoy those as people, we want those to stay managed by the federal government and rightly so. So let’s move away from that, let’s stop talking about that. The reason that we paid $9M for 16 days to open the national parks is because they are so incredibly critical to the local economies in those areas of the state.
We could not survive as a state in those economies without having those parks open so we did what we need to do as a state which is use state tax money to open those parks and by the way that money has not been paid back yet, we’ll see if it will but we are more than happy to have had those parks reopened for those 16 days.
Ken brings up something very important and that is the discussion about this enabling act. Read the entire enabling act, read all of the language of the enabling act. Until, the lands are disposed of and the proceeds shall be given to the school children of the states. Until and shall are incredibly important words. The promises were kept to the eastern states and the Midwest states the promise has not been kept the promise that was made in the contract at statehood with the western states that’s all we’re talking about. We’re talking about having the federal government live up to the same contractual promises that were made at statehood with the other states.
Ken Ivory
In fact there was a law review done by BYU that came out a month and a half ago, that goes into great detail and says there is a very credible constitutional case to be made on the term of the enabling act that the federal government needs to honor its obligations with respect to access I’m glad you brought that up because in every travel management plan by the BLM and the forest service they are shutting off access all over the west, thousands of roads all over the west. And it’s the state of Utah that is spending millions of dollars to keep that access open for you with respect to the costs that pat shea brought up Nevada just came out with a report last month, that said managing the BLM lands in Utah. They looked at Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho. Managing the similar lands in Utah, Utah generates $33 an acre positive net revenue while the BLM loses 91 cents an acre, yes indeed we cannot afford to manage it the way the federal government does but we can’t afford not to do it the way the state does.
Closing statements
Pat Shea: the first thing that I would like to point out is if we raise the grazing fees from a $1.39 to where the state charges $11 or private land charges $20 an AUM Animal Unit Month then we wouldn’t be having this problem Ken, but  I don’t think you would like that.
{let our debaters debate please}
Could we continue to have a civil debate here, I hope so. The point I do want to make is that it is always avoiding the question that needs to be addressed, what happened in Nevada, What happened in San Juan County is inherently dangerous to BLM employees, to federal employees, to state employees the idea that a 5 or 7 year old can be riding on the handlebars of an atv with an automatic weapon held by the driver is absolutely in anybody’s sense unsafe.  If that’s the kind of way that we are going to have the states managing public lands then heaven help us, it’s not responsible it’s not something out children or our grandchildren would be proud of, we need to come up with answers that we can solve as a community, it’s not a finger pointing game, it’s a game of coming up with solutions. Let’s look at the recreation and public trust act and see ways that we can rationalize lands instead of spending all of this money on lawyers and litigation. I think it is important that when we leave here today that we resolve that we will work as citizens of Utah and citizens of the United States to come up with sustainable solutions into the future. And the idea that we’re going to sit around and flip a switch and we’re going to be in charge by god is not going to solve the problems that have happened in the last 10 days or weeks.
Ken Ivory:
Under Pat Shea’s BLM the federal government locked up 1.8 million acres without talking to a single Utahn. They did it despite the council for environmental quality saying, I’m increasingly of the view that we should just drop these Utah ideas, these lands are not really in danger. Yet they did it without talking to a single Utahn. Week ago commissioner Darin Bushman from Piute County called me and said the Forest Service wanted to do a 50-40 thousand acre prescribed burn and they asked them a simple question, can we go in and take out any usable timber before you burn the forest? They said no that would be a commercial harvest, you’d have to have an environmental impact statement and there would be litigation for years. We can’t let you take out anything usable we just need to burn it all up. You know up in Heber there is a company that takes standing dead timber that they can cull out of the state and private forests and they can build homes that are 75% more energy efficient out of dead standing timber and they do that without burning the wood up into the environment without buring the animals and destroying the watershed for generations with policies like this, these failed policies, where you can take and there’s millions of homes in standing dead timber that they simply will not allow for productive activity. With policies like these rigid and failed policies like this it makes you wonder do they really care about the people on the ground and the lives and livelihoods or do they simply want to watch the world burn.
Dan McCool:
A few years ago Pat and I were part of a team that traveled to iron county to try and see if we couldn’t find some resolution to the rs2477 roads issue there and we called together as many different stakeholders as we possibly could there had to be at least 30-40 people around the table and everybody was there the environmental groups and the atvers and ranchers and farmers and local officials and the Bureau of land management, everyone was  sitting around that table and as I sat there and looked around I thought there are no bad guys here. What I saw around that table were my fellow Utahns my fellow Americans and I realized that if we could just come together and we can actually start talking to one another and listening not just talking but also listening that we can make real progress on these kinds of issues, if we collaborate and negotiate and we work out these hard problems together as friends and neighbors instead of this very high conflict approach that our good friends are advocating, which I think will create problems rather than solve problems, if we can talk together the Utah contingent and the people from the blm and all those many different interest groups we can actually solve problems. Keep in mind tonight that this is actually a great problem to have. We are here arguing over how we manage an incredibly precious resource that we all love. That’s a rally good problem to have, let’s work it out.
Becky Lockhart:
I’ve spent most of the past year traveling around the state of Utah talking to the local elected officials and countless members of the public it’s what we do as state officials, I’ve crossed paths with the governor, the lt. governor, the senate president and dozens of members of the Utah house and senate doing the same thing. Why do we do it? Because local officials are accountable we know we are accountable and lets not fool ourselves, federal bureaucrats thousands of miles away are accountable to no one. It won’t be a Washington Bureaucrat who looks into the eyes of the beaver county commissioners when they express their concerns about feral horses and the damage that they have caused to the lands and the economy. I did. It won’t be a Washington Bureaucrat who looks into the worried eyes of a homeowner in Sanpete County concerned that his life’s work will burn to the ground because fences don’t know the difference between federal and state lands. Utah’s Lt. Governor Spencer Cox did, it won’t be a Washington Bureaucrat who looks into the eyes of a hotel owner at the entrance of a national park and promises to reopen the parks. County Commissioners and Sheriffs did. Who then will best manage public lands in Utah ? President Hoover said this in 1929. Our Western States have long passed from their swaddling clothes and are today more confident to manage most of these affairs than the federal government. We must seek every opportunity to slow the expansion of federal bureaucracy and place our communities in charge of their own destinies. Who should manage the public lands in Utah?  Utahns. Thank You.

 

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Invasive Weeds in Utah

Russian Olive Trees in Emery County
It’s incredible how once you learn about invasive weeds, how you begin to see them everywhere.

Chad and our film crew recently attended a field trip in Emery County to see how they are working with the state and private landowners to manage the Russian Olive problem. These trees were initially planted to serve as a wind break and shade but they soon began popping up all over the county.

You would never believe how this seemly useful tree can destroy the productivity of a pasture or a waterway by growing in so thick that nothing can breakthrough.

HIGHLIGHTS:

:54 Emery County Russian Olive Removal
7:27 Importance of keeping on top of noxious weed management
9:05 Impact of Noxious Weeds on citizens
10:48 Impacts on water
17:16 Creating local partnerships to manage noxious weeds
23:07 Managing noxious weeds is a never-ending process
26:39 By land, sea, and air.

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Utah’s Fourth District a Conversation with Congressman Jim Matheson

There are few absolutes in life. This makes a number of issues hard to understand when they are oversimplified by short soundbites, tweets and texts.

Chad Booth and Congressman Matheson discussed a broad range of issues including: Medicaid Expansion,  Utah’s air Quality, and even transfer of public lands.

From time to time we find it interesting to look at local issues from a national perspective and lending issues more time. Congressman Matheson shared some down to earth perspective on local issues that I hope you will find interesting.

Utah’s 4th district covers parts of Salt Lake, Utah, Juab, and Sanpete counties. Representing both urban and rural interests.

Highlights:
2:02 Medicaid Expansion
4:32 The States as Laboratories
6:30 Funding for County Mental Health
11:36 Air Quality
15:03 Increasing the use of Natural Gas as a Fuel
17:21 Transfer of Public Lands
19:16 Payment in Lieu of Taxes
23:31 Remember who you represent

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Broadband in Rural Utah

A connection to the internet has become a necessity of life for many of us. That access allows people to connect their ideas, products, and services but requires infrastructure that can be challenging to install in the more rural areas of the state, prompting the question: What is needed to bring broadband to rural Utah.

The Utah Broadband Project was established in 2011 to map available services and plan for future expansion of services. The goal of expanding the availability of broadband internet service is to create a level playing field for communities and businesses across the state.

The County Seat attended a recent conference in Delta, Utah that discussed the benefits and potential hurdles to expanding broadband internet coverage in rural communities across the state.

Potential Listing of the Greater Sage Grouse

Back in March 2010 The US Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the Greater Sage Grouse was warranted for listing as a threatened species under the endangered species act. The bird was precluded from a formal listing at that time because of higher priority species. A looming final decision has created a mad dash to the finish line, by states, counties, private citizens, and federal land managers.

This week on the County Seat we will look at the good work that is taking place across the state as plans come together and people work to keep the Sage Grouse off of the Endangered Species List.

There is a consensus that the landscape will change but US Fish and Wildlife has assured people that it won’t be the end of the world. But what would a listing mean for Utah and would it help the Sage Grouse?

Highlights:

1:34 Biology and Habitat
2:14 Threats to Sage grouse
3:29 Landscape Species
7:12 Impact of a listing of the Sage Grouse
8:38 Larry Crist US Fish and Wildlife
9:36 What would a listing really mean?
10:13 Collaborative environment to contention
11:00 Funding and People would walk away
12:00 Prairie Dogs in Iron County
14:46 Utah’s Conservation Efforts
16:06 Issues with Utah’s Plan
16:38 Utah’s site specific research
17:31 Importance of local support
18:31 Utah Sage Grouse Plan Implementation
25:00 Summary and Takeaways