Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why Utah should let the Feds own Utah Land

In an earlier post I stated I would detail why it makes sense for the federal government to own most of Utah's land. (Yes, this is a shocker from a conservative!) At any rate, it comes down to simple economics. I believe that over 90% of the land within Utah is owned by the US government. Much of that is owned by the Defense Department for weapons testing and military training areas, some of it is Native American reservation areas, and much is held by the National Park Service and the BLM. With the exception of the Grand Escalante Staircase, which should have been retained by Utah, the feds can manage and maintain that land. The vast majority of the land they hold is not wanted by this taxpaper. Think about it. If there is a wildfire like the Milford Flats fire of 2007, who pays for that on federal land? The US taxpayer. If there is a wildfire on State of Utah land who pays for that? The Utah taxpayer. I know that there are more taxpayers to pick up that tab at the federal level than at the state level.

A few years ago, the State of Utah faced the decision to close down 1/3 of its state parks due to a lack of funding. Can you image the budgetary issues the state would have if the BLM turned the keys over and said, "It's yours!" With a small population, and a smaller number of taxpayers, Utah is not in a place to pay for the management of all of the land within its boarders. As long as our population is small, we should continue to allow the federal government the luxury of paying the tab for our land.

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