Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Officials gear up to fight the feds

State legislators and county officials in Utah are gearing up for what they expect will be a heated legal fight against the Bureau of Land Management’s new wild lands policy. The controversial policy was announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Dec. 23 and gives the BLM the authority to designate millions of acres of publicly owned lands in the West as “wild lands,” and apply the same restrictions on use that exist in wilderness areas. The move has drawn support from environmental groups, wilderness advocates and some politicians in Utah and around the nation who say a definitive plan to protect BLM administered land is long past due. Locally though, the policy has drawn the ire of elected officials who say they don’t plan on seeing it enacted without mounting a staunch opposition. “I was shocked and almost in disbelief when this announcement was made,” said state Rep. Kraig Powell, who represents Duchesne, Uintah, and Wasatch counties. Challenging the new directive has become a top priority for many government leaders in Utah, not just rural legislators. When the 2011 general session of the Legislature began last week, representatives and senators were already collaborating on multiple bills to combat the wild lands directive...more

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