What is going to be done about existing rights?
All valid existing rights including grazing, mining, timber, water, recreational access, and others will continue to be recognized.
Don't these lands belong to all of us?
No, these lands rightfully belong to the citizens of Utah, just as lands in eastern states belong to the citizens of those states. Ownership by Utah will not reduce enjoyment of the lands by anyone. Just as Americans all feel welcome to enjoy the beauty of the color in the Northeast in the fall, and the beaches of Florida in the winter, Americans will feel as welcome as ever, if not more so, to enjoy the experience of Utah's snow, color country, and plentiful wildlife through protection and use of the resources by the best manages state in the nation - Utah.
How will this legislation benefit the state, education, economy?
Utah has hundreds of billions of dollars in abundant mineral resources. Yet, Utah is perpetually last in the nation in per-pupil funding for education (by more than $2 billion annually). This is because under federal control, access has been greatly denied for the multiple use of our public lands. Responsibly utilizing these resources will grow the economy and the tax base providing the revenues needed to close the education funding gap and to fund essentials government services.
What about protections for wildlife and habitat?
The management of wildlife and habitat will change - for the better. Through improvements to the range, wetlands and other wildlife habitat made possible by more cost effective operations, use of local knowledge of the land, and reliance on centuries-old sound stewardship principles, state and local agencies can provide more effective and responsive protection and management of game species and native species to the enjoyment of all Americans, invasive species can be better controlled, and wetlands vital to migratory birds better protected.
Will the lands be sold to the highest bidder?
No. The lands will continue to be managed for multiple use, i.e., sustainable yield and protection of resources, hunting and fishing, and recreational access. This bill also paves the way for the creation of a Public Lands Commission to responsibly manage the lands and will preserve the expectation of multiple use of the lands that have developed over the last 116 years since statehood. After the Public Lands Commission has organized the management of the existing multiple use of the lands, any lands that may be sold, if any, must be approved and authorized through an open, public process in the best interests of the citizens of Utah.
Doesn't the state already get money from public land?
The state currently receives a share of federal mineral receipts, and local governments receive a small amount from the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools Program. These programs are federal revenue sharing programs designed to partially compensate for the lack of opportunity to develop a sustainable full-spectrum economy from the federal lands. It is expected that state ownership of the lands will provide sufficient compensation to the public for the use of the renewable and non-renewable resources of the state. Comparable operations on state and federal lands show the states can not only provide for healthy landscapes and produce renewable and non-renewable resources compatibly, but do it for a small fraction of the cost.
Will I be able to hunt, fish, 4-wheel, hike, bike, etc.?
Yes. As a responsible steward, Utah will manage the public lands to enhance and improve recreational opportunities.
What will happen with tribal lands?
Tribal lands are not affected by this bill.
What about grazing rights?
Once fully in control of our range-lands, Utah will guarantee grazing rights, and will engage in proactive sustainable efforts to increase the yield of forage, increase the yield of clean water, and reduce the effects of wildlife and invasive species on the range through locally-driven, on-the-ground response.
Won't this harm tourism and outdoor recreation?
No, if anything it will enhance them because there will be better access and better protection of the truly sensitive areas that demand proactive protection practices.
This bill will allow Utah to maintain vibrant healthy landscapes and to find the best management practices to enhance or restore areas which have suffered greatly under the process-heavy federal bureaucracy. States in the west have demonstrated that best management practices, coupled with sound fiscal policy, lead to healthy, vibrant landscapes at a fraction of the cost, by allowing the money to be spent on-the-ground, rather than in endless studies and useless litigation as required by federal regulation.
Outdoor tourism thrives because healthy landscapes, abundant terrestrial, bird and aquatic wildlife and the opportunity to engage the outdoors, through one's own labors provide the experience people seek. Proper management of the land, water, forestry and wildlife resources by the state, coupled with guaranteed access to the recreational areas, and encouragement to private enterprise to provide recreational opportunities for those who desire it,will foster a healthy tourism industry.
What will happen to our forests?
Local management and decision-making will result in healthier, more accessible, and more productive forests.
Haven't we been down this road before?
No, not this road. This bill makes a distinct demand for the United States to honor its promise; the same promise it made to all the other newly created states - to dispose of all public lands in timely fashion upon achieving statehood. It kept this promise with all states east of Colorado (and with Hawaii). Are we not a state entitled to have the federal government honor this same promise to Utah, to our school children, and to future generations of Utahns?