Governor signs bill demanding Utah federal lands

Friday , March 23, 2012 - 4:31 PM

Josh Loftin

SALT LAKE CITY-- Gov. Gary Herbert is signing a bill challenging the federal control of public lands in Utah despite legal warnings about significant constitutional issues.

Herbert said during a ceremony at the state Capitol on Friday that House Bill 148 is an important step in a long-standing dispute over public lands.

The bill demands the federal government to relinquish approximately 28 million acres of land within Utah by 2014. National parks, wilderness areas, military installations and Indian reservations are exempted.

Legislative attorneys warn the bill is probably unconstitutional.

Herbert says he is willing to challenge the federal government in court if a political solution cannot be found.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the bill could eliminate important protections from development for wildlife refuges, forests and other sensitive areas.

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