ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) The deadly Oregon occupation may be over but the battle to get state control of federal land is heating up. A well-organized national group with roots in Utah is looking to peacefully and legally accomplish what the occupiers couldn’t in Bend, OR.
Nearly 23 million acres of public land in Utah. That’s what the American Land Council is fighting for in the Beehive State.
Supported by state and county leaders, the council is advocating for the Transfer of Land Act, signed into Utah law in 2012, but not recognized by the federal government. It would give the state control of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
“I feel like those that manage closest to the land will care the most about it because we are the ones using it,” Utah Director of American Land Council Willie Billings said.
Billings is holding meetings in every Utah county to gain support.
Unlike the Oregon Occupiers, the council aims to use both political and legal avenues to secure the federal land. Billings says there is power in numbers.
“This, for me is [about] the public involvement. The public has got to support this. If the public is pushing it, then they are going to require their elected officials to support it and then we move through those channels,” Billings said.
The council doesn’t want all federal land to be controlled locally. The American Land Council wants the US government to keep track of national parks, national forests and land used by the Department of Defense.
The informational meeting starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 in the Dixie State University Dunford Auditorium.
Two hundred people are expected to attend.