In a policy paper issued today, Johnson stated his distinct ability to effectively execute this plan saying: “As a lawyer and business executive, I have been involved in many high-stakes negotiations” and commented that the end goal is to obtain “the state’s rightful ownership and local management of Utah’s public lands.”
Key motivations for Johnson’s plan include:
Protecting the health of Utah’s public lands
Securing better access for this generation and generations to come
Increasing economic activity desperately needed in rural counties
Providing more funding for education
During his two terms as governor, the Utah legislature has provided Gov. Herbert with multiple tools to help transfer public lands to Utah. However, Gov. Herbert has not taken meaningful action on any of these opportunities. Johnson noted, “The Utah state legislature has done its part. It’s time for a governor who leads.”
A key difference in Gov. Herbert and Johnson’s strategy is their willingness to sue the federal government over this issue. In December 2015, Gov. Herbert stated, “I don’t want to go to court”.
In today’s policy paper Johnson expressed his differing opinion stating: “As governor, I will get the federal government to transfer public lands to Utah by leading out on this issue and enlisting the help of governors and local and federal officials … [and] bringing a lawsuit against the federal government.”
Johnson also specified what he plan does not include such as:
Selling large portions of public lands to private parties.
Lessening public access to public land.
Exploiting the land in irresponsible ways.
Johnson closed this policy paper by stating: “It’s time for Utah to own and manage its public lands..”