New campaign critical of state approach to public lands

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Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – A regional group is asking Utah lawmakers to reverse course on public lands.

The federal government controls about two-thirds of the land in our state, and some say it should stay that way.

“Whether you live in Ohio, Colorado or Utah these lands belong to all Americans,” said Jen Rokala, with the Center for Western Priorities.

Monday, the group launched the U-turn Utah campaign on the steps of the Capitol. They are calling on state leaders to reverse what they say is a record of disrespecting public lands. They are using billboards, outdoor magazines and online advertising to spread the message.

“We want to make sure as tourists make their travel plans for the summer that they understand what could happen if Utah politicians succeed,” said Rokala.

It’s part of a long standing battle in our state over development and conservation.

“There is really a desire to in fact find resolution to this public lands conflict,” said Governor, Gary Herbert, (R) Utah.

The state Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands has approved a resolution encouraging the state to sue the federal government. The governor wants to see a legislative effort through. He supports the Public Lands Initiative, sponsored by Utah Representative, Rob Bishop. It’s a compromise effort on about 18 million acres.

“Saying here’s where you can develop your natural resources and here’s where you can’t. Again, we’ve worked three years with our congressional delegation, let’s see what happens there,” said Herbert.

The governor says there is a way to meet in the middle.

“It should be, at the end of the day a win, win, win for everybody,” said Herbert.

Rokala insists there could be a clear loser.

“Access to their favorite mountain biking trails, camping spots, access to those places could be cut off,” said Rokala.

The Center for Western Priorities says a take over of public lands would put tourism and jobs at risk.

Click here for more information on the campaign

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...