Outdoor recreation is a key driver of Utah’s economy. From hunting and fishing to mountain biking and hiking, consumers spend $12 billion in Utah on outdoor recreation, supporting 122,000 jobs. But Utah’s public lands are under attack. This week the Center for Western Priorities is calling on Utah’s leaders to make a U-turn from their reckless attempts to seize American public lands.
This year Utah launched a $4.6 million advertising campaign to attract visitors to its “Mighty 5” national parks, reminding viewers that these public lands “belong to you‚Ä¶ this is your birthright.” Hypocritically, Utah leaders have moved forward with a $14 million lawsuit against the United States to seize U.S. public lands. To pay for managing those public lands, Utah would likely have to sell public land to private developers, closing access to hunting, fishing and mountain biking.
These efforts to seize public lands are being led by a handful of Utah politicians, including Governor Gary Herbert, who signed the law moving forward with Utah’s $14 million lawsuit, and Representative Rob Bishop, who has led the land seizure movement in the U.S. Congress. Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory has worked to spread the land seizure scheme across the West, founding a nonprofit advocating for land transfers and using donations from Western counties to pay his salary.
Seizing America’s public lands in Utah will only hurt the state’s outdoor recreation economy. Instead, Utah should respect its public lands by increasing access to recreation opportunities and by working proactively to engage with all levels of government to enhance our public lands.
The Center for Western Priorities’ U-Turn Utah campaign will raise awareness about this critical issue. It launched with events in Salt Lake City, UT and Grand Junction, CO, along with billboards in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah, and magazine advertisements in prominent outdoor recreation publications.
Please take a minute to tell Utah Governor Gary Herbert to make a U-turn and reverse course from its reckless attempt to seize American public lands.