In a big push for states' rights, Utah is telling the federal government it wants its land back.
"Lawmakers who want to seize control of federal lands are pushing a legal battle they insist is winnable despite multiple warnings their effort is highly unconstitutional and almost sure to fail in court.
Utah is poised to become the first state to pass a package of bills that demand the federal government relinquish claims to huge sections of public land. A proposal that advanced Wednesday demands that by 2014 the federal government cede control of nearly 30 million acres -- nearly 50 percent of the entire state....
Driving the legislative frustration is an ongoing anger over missed opportunities to develop and mine lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.
There is also concern that access to state-owned or private lands will be increasingly restricted by Congress or even with the stroke of a president's pen, which happened in 1996 when President Bill Clinton created the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
"In our area, we feel that we have federal land management policies that ignore the needs of state, county or local residents," said Dirk Clayson, a commissioner in rural Kane County, Utah, which has less than 10 percent privately-owned land. "Even well-meant efforts from federal officials seem to get tied up with policy decisions ... that are not responsive to local needs...."
One wonders if part of what is motivating Utahns is a lack of faith in the federal government to make good choices with the land. After all, it's been over 10 years since the land was taken for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.