(KCPW News) Utah Governor Gary Herbert says selling federal land to help ease the national debt is an idea worth exploring. He was responding to Florida Congressman Dennis Ross’s comments, using Utah as an example that if the federal government needs the cash, it should “start liquidating.” Speaking at his monthly news conference on KUED, Herbert said it’s not a bad idea.
“I don’t think we’re going to sell off our national parks and some of those pristine areas, but there’s a lot of land that could in fact be privatized and help reduce the deficit,” said Herbert. “We only have about 21 percent of Utah that’s privately owned land. Compared to the people back east, they can’t even comprehend that.”
But Deeda Seed, Grassroots Outreach Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, says that could set a terrible precedent, because one person’s excess land may be another’s valued landscape .
“What happens generally is that it does really quickly turn into someone’s profit motive,” said Seed. “On the other side of it, the suggestion by the Congressman from Florida that we’re going to be able to solve some of our national debt crisis by the sale of western public lands is absurd.”
Seed says the gains from selling federal land would be small, but it would eliminate wild lands on which many Utahns recreate. Congressman Jason Chaffetz has proposed a bill to sell off excess federal land.