Wasatch Environmental Update for August 11, 2013
By John Worlock, Member, SOC Board of Directors
“Tavaci Victory and the Public Lands Initiative”
We were delighted to learn last week that Salt Lake County Council accepted the recommendation of its Planning and Development Commission and rejected the rezoning proposal by Terry Diehl for his Tavaci development in the foothills above Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Council’s vote was only four to three, but we will celebrate the victory. Proponents of the Tavaci development promised the County a bonanza of tax benefits, while opponents reminded the Council of its important role in protecting the heritage of the Wasatch Foothills.
Elsewhere, off the Wasatch Front, there is some commotion concerning the disposition and use of what are called Public Lands. Of course we are not speaking of public lands controlled by the State of Utah.
No. When we talk of Public Lands in Utah, we generally mean those that are in the hands of federal authorities, whether the Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service.
So, you ask, what’s the commotion? Congressman Rob Bishop has established what he calls the Public Lands Initiative. Frustrated by what he sees as lack of progress and gridlock in dealing with public land policies in Utah, he has declared a grand plan to bring all stakeholders to the bargaining table and resolve their differences. A large and disparate group is invited: you can read the list on the Congressman’s website. Disparate is no overstatement: Petroleum developers and wilderness enthusiasts, river-runners and off-road vehicle types, county and municipal leaders, chambers of commerce and entrepreneurs in outdoor recreation, for example.
We suspect that the Congressman’s Public Lands Initiative is a back-door expression of the Governor’s and the Legislature’s expressed wish to seize control of the federal lands and to put them in the hands of the state, or worse yet, the counties and municipalities.
On this topic, the Governor’s Public Lands Policy Coordination Office will host a public meeting to discuss the economic issues involved in transferring federal land ownership to the State. This Wednesday, August 14, 1 to 3 pm at the State Office Building auditorium near the Capitol. You are, of course, invited.