Environews: Mike Noel has bad plans for your public lands

By Amy Brunvand

Environmental news from around the state and the West.
by Amy Brunvand

Representative Mike Noel (R-Kanab), always an outspoken anti-environmentalist, has introduced the Utah Public Land Management Act in the Utah Legislature just in case the State of Utah ever succeeds in grabbing control of 31 million acres of federal public lands.

It’s good to know what an actual plan might look like, but as critics predicted, Noel’s proposed policy maximizes revenue generation over conservation or any other consideration of public good.

Noel says his bill, which requires a specific management priority to be defined for each area, uses the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) as a model, and that’s exactly the problem.

While SITLA lands are owned by the State of Utah they are not public lands in the same sense as federal public lands which are open to various public uses and can be managed in ways that raise little or no money. SITLA lands are managed for the sole purpose of generating revenue and are not subject to multiple use management, environmental reviews or public input on how they are managed or whether they are sold.

Although he often talks about federal “overreach,” Noel’s own plan would create a situation with far less public input than is offered under current federal regulations.

This article was originally published on March 1, 2016.