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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Should The Government Sell Off Federal Land In Utah?

As part of a move to ease federal budget shortfalls, a Florida Congressman is suggesting the government sell Utah.

Or, at least, sell some of the vast tracks of land it owns here.

Here's a quote from this news report:

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fl.) told Reuters "The federal government owns 70 percent of Utah, there are federal buildings, if you need cash let’s start liquidating."

To clarify, there are few building included in the 70% of Utah owned by the federal government. The federal holdings include our national parks, forests, monuments and recreation areas, plus remote backcountry play areas where nobody lives.

But there are serious proposals on the table for the government to sell specific land parcels. Before such actions take place, public hearings are held and people are given the chance to participate in the decision-making process.

Below are more excepts from the report.

Utah has nearly 33 million acres of federal land in the state and U.S. Senator Mike Lee wants to tack on for sale signs to certain lands and giveaway others.

But Senate Bill 635, co-sponsored by Senators Lee and John McCain (R-Az.) would sell off federal lands in the west, including Utah.

"It's been more than a decade since the land was deemed suitable for disposal and there is no critical need for the federal government to hold onto it," said Senator Lee in a prepared statement.

He estimates that the sale of 3.3 million acres throughout the west would bring in more than a billion dollars.

"I think that's one of the most short-sighted ideas I've heard," said Mark Heileson of Utah’s Sierra Club. "When you think of what's valuable for the people of Utah it's public lands. It's where we go fishing and hunting and camping with our families."

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