(KCPW News) In what is becoming an annual event, supporters of state sovereignty plan to parade off highway vehicles from Liberty Park to the Capitol building Saturday in protest of the federal government’s control of public lands.
“We’ve seen outside special interest groups, especially the radical environmental groups take more and more control over what happens with management of public lands. Hence, we’ve lost the revenues on these lands,” says State Republican Representative Mike Noel of Kane County. “So you’ve got two-thirds of the lands in the state of Utah that is public land that no longer derives hardly any revenue off that land in terms of property taxes.”
Noel says income from mineral leases, timber harvesting, and grazing access have been taken away, and he wants the federal government to let the states have more say in managing public lands.
Appearing on KCPW’s Politics Up Close program, Utah Representative Rob Bishop, who will speak at the rally, said it appears to him as if the Obama Administration is looking to take control of even more land.
“The federal government owns one out of every three acres of land. And the recent brainstorming sessions they had clearly shows that the intent of this administration is to increase the amount of property they own, even though they have that much to begin with. And also to increase the amount of control they have over private property rights in what they are now calling eco-regions, as opposed to just controlling the land they own.” Said Bishop.
Noel says about 5,000 people attended last year’s Take Back Utah rally, and expectations are that number will double for tomorrow’s rally. The event begins at 6 am tomorrow at Liberty Park, with the rally at the Capitol beginning at 12:30.
**KCPW’s Whitney Evans contributed to this report.