Center for Western Priorities launches nationwide U-Turn Utah campaign to highlight consequences of state efforts to seize public lands

May 24, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY—The dire economic consequences of Utah’s ongoing effort to seize U.S. public lands are highlighted in the Center for Western Priorities’ summer-long U-Turn Utah advertising campaign, which launched with a press conference at the Utah State Capitol.

“The parks and public lands inside of Utah belong to all Americans, whether you live in Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, or Utah—these are your public lands. But Utah politicians have plans to sue the federal government in an irresponsible attempt to take over outdoor spaces that belong to all of us,” said Jennifer Rokala, Executive Director at the Center for Western Priorities. “As Americans make their summer vacation plans, we want people across the country to know what Utah politicians have planned for our public lands.”

The state of Utah is currently spending millions of dollars on its “Road to Mighty” tourism campaign that tells Americans that Utah’s public lands are their “birthright.” The ads are correct; Utah’s public lands do belong to all Americans. At the same time, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed legislation to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a frivolous lawsuit intended to take that birthright away.

Brad Petersen, the former director of Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, spoke out against the planned lawsuit that would force the United States to dispose of 31 million acres of national land within Utah.

“To manage those lands at current service levels the state would need to employ more than 2,100 new land managers and spend an additional $280 million,” Petersen said. “I ask the legislature, many of whom are my friends, to study the facts, eliminate the emotion, and focus on investing our tax contributions into initiatives that will improve Utah.”

Juan Palma, former State Director of Utah’s BLM office, added, “Our national public lands are uniquely American. People don’t just travel from across the country, but from around the globe to visit Utah’s natural wonders. It’s time for the Utah Legislature to respect our outdoor legacy and drop this quest to seize lands away from all Americans.”

Utah’s $12 billion outdoor recreation economy is reliant on national public lands to attract visitors to the state.

“The outdoor industry depends on public lands to thrive. Instead of going down a dangerous road that could close access to mountain biking and other activities, Utah leaders should do everything possible to keep our public lands open and functioning,” said Ashley Korenblat, owner of Western Spirit Cycling.

As Utah works to export its land-seizure agenda to the rest of the country, the Center for Western Priorities’ U-Turn Utah campaign will remind outdoor users that the state must make a U-turn from this hypocrisy and stop trying to take public lands away from the American people.

The six-­figure U-Turn Utah campaign targets outdoor recreation enthusiasts and policymakers with billboards in Denver, Phoenix, Reno, and Salt Lake City, with print ads in prominent outdoor magazines, and digital advertising.

To learn about the campaign, visit Video from today’s launch event and assets from the U-Turn Utah print and outdoor ads will be available at

For more information or to speak with an expert about American public lands, contact Aaron Weiss at 720-369-9252.