Utah’s been in the news a lot lately thanks to the state’s elected leadership and its efforts over the last few years to seize or sell public lands from every American who owns them. As anglers, many of us know that Utah is wonderful fishing destination, and that most of the great trout fishing in Utah takes place on public lands the state keeps trying to get its hands on.
Oddly enough, according to a recent study, Utahns, with these resources are their fingertips, are quite divided on the public lands issue. Residents in every other western state support keeping public lands in public hands—of those polled in Utah, only 44 percent supported the notion that the feds should control and administer the state’s public lands. Of those polled, 48 percent want to see public lands in Utah transferred to state control and managed by the state government, an onerous responsibility that would require a significant portion of the state budget earmarked for that purpose. And even then, it likely would cost taxpayers and the state more than they could afford. The outcome? A likely firesale of Utah’s public lands to the highest bidders.
Keep in mind that, although that land is in Utah, it belongs to you and every other American. Trout Unlimited, of course, opposes the notion of transferring public lands to the states—the firefighting bills alone are enough to almost ensure a mad scramble to sell public lands to private intersests. Perhaps the video above will help anglers and others in Utah who support our public lands to fight back against the transfer idea. Giving our birthright to the state could very likely amount to the loss of shared ownership in American public lands within the borders of the Beehvive State.
— Chris Hunt