Rare Truce Possible in Utah’s Decades-Long Land-Use War

The Wall Street Journal takes an in-depth look at the Utah Public Lands Initiative, a proposed federal law some call the “Grand Bargain” that would designate areas for both wilderness and energy use.

Reports Jim Carlton:

As of now, eight of Utah’s 29 counties would be included in the pact. Besides San Juan, they include Daggett, Uintah, Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand and Summit counties, all in the eastern part of the state.

Congressional officials said such a deal could be replicated across the West in areas where local communities have frequently clashed with federal officials from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies over access and use. The federal government owns about half the land in the West; in Utah, 57% of the state is federally owned.

“We’re doing something of great significance and hopefully it will bring people’s blood pressure down,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who is co-sponsoring the legislation with fellow Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.