Environews, Environews, Minis

Congressional leaning on Public Lands Initiative

By Amy Brunvand

On September 14 the House Public Lands Subcommittee held a hearing on Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT-1) Public Lands Initiative bill. Neil Kornze, Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) slammed the bill saying, “The Department opposes the nonstandard management language for many of the proposed conservation and special management designations, which are repeated throughout the bill and would result in significantly less protection than in other similarly designated areas. Additionally, the Department strongly opposes the unprecedented language transfer- ring all energy development and permitting authority within the affected counties from the Federal government to the State of Utah, proposed limits on the BLM’s management of grazing, and the automatic granting of Revised Statute (R.S.) 2477 right-of-way claims that are currently subject to active litigation with no showing that they have satisfied applicable legal standards.”

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk who is a Councilwoman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition testified against a provision in the bill that would transfer 100,000 acres of Ute tribal land to the State of Utah. “This bill has been built on the back of the Ute Indian Tribe and their Reservation homelands,” she said. “Let me be clear, a vote for this bill is a vote to steal Indian lands, diminish tribal self-determination, and set federal Indian policy back 100 years.”

Legislative Hearing on H.R. 5780 Utah Public Lands Initiative Act: naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/ eventsingle. aspx?EventID=401106

This article was originally published on October 12, 2016.