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Jakek Morphonios, ETNR

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Jan. 29, 201 6

Currently the federal government lays claim to 64.5% of the lands in the state of Utah, much to the ire of both the people of Utah and their representatives. But all that is about to change.

After three years of the federal government refusing to discuss the matter with the state government, Governor Gary Herbert is moving forward with plans to seize the 31.2 million acres of Utah land from the federal government and restore control of the lands to the people of Utah. The action is unprecedented.

In 2012, the Utah legislature passed the “Transfer of Public Lands Act”. This law demanded that the federal government relinquish its hold on the land by December 31st, 2015, but Washington DC didn’t so much as blink. Now that the deadline has passed, Governor Herbert intends to take the lands 3 weeks from now.

The seizure entails a 4-step plan, including education, negotiation, legislation and litigation. And the state is prepared for the costs involved for the effort. This past Monday, a 784 page report entitled “An Analysis of a Transfer of Federal Lands to the State of Utah” demonstrated that the state government was fully capable of doing the job that has, until now, been performed by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service.

The report’s analysis indicates that the state would incur approximately $280 million in costs to mange the lands. However, with an expected $332 million in royalties from mineral resources development, Utah will actually turn a profit from taking control of their own lands.

The news is welcomed by Americans all across the west who have grown weary of the abuses of the federal government against ranchers, miners, loggers, farmers and other property owners who have been harassed and abused by the BLM and other federal bureaucracies.

The question remains – How will the federal government respond? It is one thing to crack down on a small pockets of citizen resistance groups, but quite another to face off against an entire state. For now, groups such as the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, led by Ammon Bundy, can take heart that movement to restore constitutional freedom is well underway.