Posts Tagged ‘land use’

Daily Fix, Dec 30

December 30, 2010

The #snowpocalypse finally came to Utah. Slide-offs, crashes, road closures, jack-knifed semis – this one had it all. Be safe out there. Fox 13

*Curious about the seating chart for the Utah Senate? Ric Cantrell breaks it down, with some amusing commentary. Senate Site

*Governor Herbert will be sworn in on Monday, January 3rd at noon at the Utah Capitol. The public is invited and there is no charge to attend, but seating is first-come, first-served. Governor’s site

*Jay Evenson of the Deseret News makes his political predictions for 2011. One of them? That this is the year that “the economic crisis will grab hold of state governments with a vengeance… This is the year that pension shortfalls hit home and the gaps between revenue and expenditures begin to defy quick-fix solutions. Washington won’t be there to bail them out this time.” Deseret News

*Congressman Rob Bishop becomes Chair of the committee that oversees public lands, national parks and forests. Bishop has been an outspoken advocate for responsible land use and an outspoken critic of the current administration’s public land-use policies. SL Trib

*Senator Ben McAdams is tired of kids dying in hot cars – as we all are – and is introducing legislation that will give law enforcement officers and prosecutors wider latitude in charging the adult(s) responsible. SL Trib

*Former Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is under investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds. Not much chance of this staying under the radar. She might be wishing for some magical powers right about now. The Hill

*Speaking of the Senate, when everyone is sworn in on Jan 5th, only 28 Senators will have served more than one full term. That’s pretty amazing, since the Senate has the reputation of being the place you go to die. It appears there is far more turn-over than we give them credit for. The Hill

*And if none of that interests you, just be grateful you are not sharing the road with the the woman who took the driver’s test 960 times before finally getting a license…..


Ugly fences, dead cows and bulldozers

September 27, 2010

Recently I came across a blog called “Utah Trail News”. The post of September 5th caught my eye. A long-time back country user wrote an open letter to the forest service. He said that he has ridden in the back country for years, staying on the trails, choosing lighter tires and trying to do his part to protect and enjoy the outdoors.

However, he now wonders why he even bothers. He was out riding a few weeks ago and came across a gate blocking access to the ATV trail. That entire area is now charred black from the “let it burn” policies of the forest service. Says he:

Your decision to let it burn has not only cost us taxpayers many MILLIONS of dollars more than if you had put it out when you had the opportunity, but it has now burned through many more acres of pristine wilderness, including the very trail you had closed off to me so I wouldn’t damage the environment. I now question your judgment, and wonder why I bothered not going ahead and riding onward. What difference would it have made in the end? I trusted your judgment and yet I now realize you didn’t have my interests at heart at all. It was merely control.

Further, he took another ride to a high country lake with his disabled daughter, only to find that access had been cut off by a crudely erected fence. That same day, he continued and found this:

I then rode further down the trail only to find several big pieces of machinery working through the forest. They were cutting down trees. Nice trees. Not the hundreds of trees dying to the bark beetle. Nope. These were healthy trees. And the machines went wherever they wanted, leaving tracks much more severe than my ATV ever could. Or all the ATVs I’ve seen on the trail as a matter of fact! They also left fuel and oil spills – something I know I have never done. I questioned you again. Is this what I wanted? Who wanted this? I rode on the existing trail, keeping the area clean all these times only so you could do this?

And then this:

Once again I set out to explore another wonderful 2-track trail I had ridden just last year. When I got to the trailhead, it had been, ah, changed. Once again, you had spent my hard-earned money to close this trail to my use. But you didn’t just set a gate to limit travel. Or even a 50″ gate to limit the type of vehicles. Nope. You used a piece of heavy equipment and destroyed it. And scarred this beautiful area. Once again you spent my hard-earned tax dollars doing more damage to the environment to keep me out than I could have done in many years of riding the trail!

And for more back-country fun, you can ride past dead, rotting carcasses of cows left on the trail until you get to the fence meant to keep you off trails you’ve ridden for years.

Apparently the federal government’s take on “wilderness preservation” is to bulldoze and clear-cut the back country, let wildfires burn because it’s good for the environment, while keeping ATV riders off of trails and away from lakes. Oh, and while taxing us all for the privilege. Sounds about right – for a federal government that’s clearly insane…. (and btw – make sure you check out the pictures on the original blog.)

Philpot swings at Matheson’s land use policies

August 31, 2010

Utah’s delegation is almost universally united in standing up to Ken Salazar, his cronies and their control of 2/3 of the land in Utah. The lone hold-out is, of course, Democrat Jim Matheson.  Matheson – aka Phantom Jim – didn’t have the, um, …. courage…. to stand up to Salazar when 77 leases were yanked in Uintah county. (He did ask Salazar in a letter to pretty please restore them. Nothing happened, of course.) Matheson stayed in the background when Rep Rob Bishop and others spoke out on the administration’s backdoor plan to claim millions of acres. Matheson DID, however, announce a plan earlier this year to set aside 26,000 additional acres of wilderness in the Wasatch Mountains, prompting Alta mayor Tom Ballard to remark “It’s been kind of jammed down our throats.”

Yesterday, Matheson’s Republican opponent, Morgan Philpot took him to task as he unveiled his short, medium and long-term goals for land use.. He claimed that with 67% of the state owned by the federal government, we are no longer a sovereign state, but a “geographic area administrator” for the feds. He announced that he is endorsed by all three Washington county commissioners and said that his campaign is on track to wrap up the endorsements of 75% of the county commissioners in the second district.  He pointed to Matheson’s absenteeism and said the district – and especially the rural counties – needed someone who would go to bat for them.  The current Congressman simply will not.

Congressman Rob Bishop appeared with Philpot at his press conference. He said unequivocally that Philpot’s ideas “hit the core” of what needs to be done. “They are the kind of proactive, positive ideas that need to go back there to Congress,” he said. “He will fit in brilliantly with the entire delegation, as well as within Congress.”

In the short term, Philpot proposes that the Utah delegation work to restore the recently canceled energy leases, to increase access, specifically to school trust lands, and to open them for development.

In the medium term, he says that we must establish “once and for all” the validity of county RS2477 road rights of way and to pursue permanent, full funding of PILT – Payments in Lieu of Taxes.

In the long-term, Philpot said we must pursue a “legal and legislative strategy designed to achieve parity (as required by the Constitution) between public lands states and the rest of the Union.”

Matheson told KSL he has nothing to be ashamed of and that he has worked well with county commissioners in the past. His spokeswoman said it was not surprising Philpot got the endorsement of the Washington county commissioners –  they were Republican, after all. Wonder if she’ll be surprised if Philpot also gets the majority of the votes in this R+15 district?

Take Back Utah recap

August 30, 2010

Saturday’s “Take Back Utah” rally saw hundreds of people gathered to show solidarity for the right to use Utah’s lands – including the 67% owned by the federal government.

Last year’s rally had an estimated 4000 people. This year’s rally was maybe half that size and as City Weekly’s Josh Loftin points out, a kinder, gentler group of folks. (That’s my eyeball estimate on the Hill –  the parade portion had over 5000 people – 12 city blocks worth.)

In a humorous vein, he notes that he planned a drinking game for this years rally – “every time a speaker used the phrase “environmentalist,” “sovereign” or “Obama,” he said, he “would take a pull from my flask of whiskey.” Poor thing – he only got one drink.

Rep Rob Bishop said “The world is run by people who show up,” commending the attendees for sticking it out in blustery winds.

House Speaker Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, said the federal government has turned “ugly and irresponsible” and it is time for America to dismount from a “dead horse.” “On every policy issue that has faced the Reid, Pelosi and Obama administration, there has been a choice between freedom and more government” Clark said. “And on every single issue, they have chosen the path of more government and less freedom.” That’s about as tough as it got.

Gov. Gary Herbert addressed rally participants, bringing cheers when he told them the “squeaky wheel gets the grease. I believe we have a lot of squeaky wheels here today that are going to let their voice be heard.”

Senator Steve Urquhart, R-St. George led the crowd in song – This Land is Your Land – and 2nd Congressional district candidate, Morgan Philpot, pointed to the states’ financial hands being tied because we can not access our many natural resources.

Loftin concluded:

Last year, this rally proved to be a harbinger of things to come nationally. It brought together a lot of disparate groups that a shared a common frustration with the direction of the country, which is the same thing the Tea Party began doing in earnest a couple of months later. So, is it also a harbinger this year? If so, today’s rally and my unexpected sober ride home through the City Creek Canyon may indicate that the Tea Party activists, who have shook the political landscape for the past year, may very well be nearing the end of their uprising.

Take Back Utah Rally

August 25, 2010

This Saturday, “Take Back Utah” is holding a parade and rally at the state Capitol. Last year, 4000 outdoor enthusiasts and multiple users of public land from around the country gathered in Salt Lake to march on the capitol in protest of land restrictions placed on Utah’s public lands by the federal government.

Legislators subsequently created, debated and passed legislation that challenged the fed’s authority over federal lands and gives the state the power of eminent domain.

In an ongoing effort to show support for true “multiple use” of our lands, “Take Back Utah” has scheduled an ATV/Jeep/mountain bike/horseback/walking parade through downtown Salt Lake, followed by a rally on Capitol Hill. Access to public land in Utah remains a key issue among many voters and elected officials and the thousands expected on Saturday will be there to show their concern.

The 2010 parade and rally, scheduled for this Saturday, August 28th, will run from Liberty Park to the State Capital. The parade is free to enter, and representatives from all groups that use public lands are encouraged to join this event. Staging begins at Liberty Park on the 28th at 6 AM. 10:00 to 12:00 will be the parade and 12:30 to 1:30 the rally. Scheduled to speak in person are Governor Herbert, Rep Rob Bishop and Congressional hopeful, Morgan Philpot. Coming to you via Jumbo-tron are Senate candidate Mike Lee and Representative Jason Chaffetz.

Rob Bishop, protector of the West

August 11, 2010

Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, today announced that he recently obtained the preceding 14 pages previously missing from an internal Department of Interior (DOI) memo leaked last February.

As a reminder, that document detailed planning within the Department of the Interior to use the Antiquities Act to potentially designate up to 13 million acres as new national monuments.

The newly obtained 14 pages further detail plans within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to completely overhaul the way federal lands are managed in the U.S., including the creation of new ecosystem areas that require the acquisition of new federal lands. According to Bishop, the plans would “vastly expand the power, reach and control of federal land managers.”

“These 14 pages are further evidence of this Administration’s efforts, under the guidance of Secretary Salazar, to control western lands by unilaterally locking them up without input from local residents and stakeholders nor the approval of Congress. Their plotting behind closed doors is disingenuous at best and flies in the face of this Administration’s so-called ‘transparency’,” said Congressman Bishop. “Thousands of westerners whose livelihoods depend upon access to our public lands stand to be affected by these decisions and yet this document blatantly goes out of its way to exclude their input or participation. If there was any question about whether or not this Administration has declared a war on the West, these new documents are evidence enough.”

The BLM is only one of the divisions of the DOI that have compiled similar memos. On February 26, 2010, Congressman Bishop, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) and other Western Caucus Members sent a letter to DOI Secretary Ken Salazar requesting all relative information pertaining to the DOI’s plans to designate new national monuments throughout the West. It has been more than five months since the request was made and the DOI continues to refuse to fully comply with the official document request.”

“The reality is that this is NOT the complete set of documents pertaining to the Administration’s plans to overhaul the way public lands are managed in this country. We know that other documents like this are out there. We’ve requested them, but the folks at Interior continue to stonewall,” Bishop added. “My biggest concern is that if they’re willing to let documents this damning out from their safekeeping, they are surely protecting others that are far worse and even more revealing.”

“I remain committed to forcing Secretary Salazar and all others involved in this matter into the light of full transparency, which as these documents prove, is not a place they seem to be comfortable,” Bishop concluded. “But this potential land and power grab needs to exposed, it needs to be laid out before the public, and it needs to be stopped.”

Salazar not listening on “listening tour”

August 3, 2010

Last week, Secretary Salazar was invited to meet with the entire Utah federal delegation while he visited Utah today. Last night, his staff notified the delegation he was disinclined to acquiesce. In other words, he said no. Apparently the listening tour was for everyone else to listen to him. Ben Winslow from Fox 13 tweeted from the public meeting held today “This is billed as a public listening session, yet for the past 45 minutes we have heard only speeches from bureaucrats.” Part of Salazar’s speech was to say – again according to Twitter: “We will work with all of you in partnership,” he says, pledging to work with towns… not a DC driven agenda. Right.

To be fair, Salazar did take limited public input at today’s public meeting. However, he refused to commit to honoring Governor Herbert’s request for an appeal of the recent Skull Valley ruling. That was also the topic the federal delegation wanted to discuss.

Congressman Rob Bishop said “If the Secretary is truly interested in ‘listening,’ as his so-called ‘tour’ indicates, it seems to me that he would want to set aside a few minutes to discuss what next steps will be taken by the DOI to address the judge’s recent decision.”

Once again, Salazar tossed Utah a bone by agreeing to appear, but don’t hold your breath on a truly “balanced” approach coming from DC.

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