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Lands-Transfer Report, Decisions Delayed

Courtesy:
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Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office

Utah lawmakers will have to wait a little longer foran analysis of a federal lands transfer.

The state public lands policy coordinating office told them Wednesday a report on transferring federal lands to state hands still needs finishing touches.

Assistant Attorney General Tony Rampton said the analysis is clear-eyed, scrupulously objective and exhaustive at nearly 800 pages.

“We want Utah to be prosperous,” he said, reading from the conclusion. “This requires a diversified and enduring economy. To get there, we need to pursue development and the recreational economy. And ensure our efforts to promote one economic sector do not unduly constrain another.”

The Legislature passed thelands-transfer billin 2012. It orders the federal government to relinquish most lands by the end of this year.

But the report’s delay is another sign that lawmakers won’t decide what to do until next year or later.

Kathleen Clarke, state lands coordinator, insisted the report’s findings are not politically tainted.

“I will assure you that these folks have been entirely objective,” she said. “We have not tried to sway them.

Lawmakers will discuss the report publicly for the first time next month.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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