The push to transfer public lands is losing steam even as its proponents get closer to their goal: state control over federal lands.
Fed up with the way the Obama administration was managing public lands, Utah passed a bill in 2012 demanding that more than 31 million acres of federal land be turned over to the state. Utah’s land-transfer legislation, though ultimately unsuccessful, kicked off a wave of similar proposals across the West, but the once-boisterous land-transfer movement has sputtered under President Donald Trump.
The push to transfer public lands is losing steam even as its proponents get closer to their goal: state control over federal lands. New policy proposals from the Trump administration and proposed laws have quietly changed the tenor of the struggle over land management. With a sympathetic administration and Congress, the movement has shifted to a push for greater influence over federal lands rather than outright ownership.
Now, as the Trump administration opens up record amounts of public lands to development and federal agencies eagerly slash regulations, the movement has lost its momentum. “States that were involved … have shifted with the Trump administration, because the administration is more accepting of the state cause,” said Robert Keiter, a law professor at the University of Utah who has written extensively about the issue.
That echoes the pattern seen under previous conservative administrations, Keiter said. The first incarnation of the Sagebrush Rebellion, for example, faded in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan’s first Interior secretary, James Watt, pursued major increases in oil and gas development on public lands. Like Watt, current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has pushed for more development on federal land…MORE
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You might also be interested in the supplement to this Handbook: Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual.