Rally cry: Take Back Utah / Residents want feds to spare recreational access to public lands

Aug 27 2010 - 12:11am

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Roy resident Ty Tyler will motor his all-terrain vehicle down the heart of the capital city this weekend with what is expected to be thousands of people with a similar cause.

Their passion: protecting Utah lands from the encroachment of the federal government.

"It goes way beyond recreation," said Tyler, a board member of the Northern Utah ATV Trail Riders club.

The ATV club is one of the sponsors of the third Take Back Utah rally scheduled for Saturday.

Rally organizers said 4,000 people attended last year at the first event; a second, smaller rally was held inside the Capitol building in February during the legislative session.

"We must send a message to the federal government," said Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, also an organizer for the upcoming event.

Noel and others believe federal leaders have designs on further limiting access to federal land in Utah.

"The government wants control over more lands," said Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, a scheduled speaker at the rally.

A majority of Utah property is in federal hands.

Bishop, whose district includes much of Northern Utah, has been researching federal documents he said confirm the land-grab intent in Western states by federal leaders.

But a wilderness preservation group, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, believes a review of those documents is encouraging, not a cause for alarm.

"Even a casual reading of the 21-page document reveals what we would hope the federal government is doing -- using sound scientific and land-management principles to ensure the health of our special places in a future fraught with a changing climate and greater user demands on our public lands," Richard Peterson-Cremer, the SUWA legislative director, wrote on the group's website.

Bishop's Democratic opponent in the fall election for District 1, Morgan Bowen, hopes the rally promotes a reasonable message and not be just blanketly anti-federal.

The Hyde Park resident believes a balance between private, commercial and federal use of Utah land is achievable.

"We've got to look at it in a reasonable way ... to make sure the lands are protected environmentally and utilized for the resources that we have," Bowen said.

The ATV parade starts at 10 a.m. and runs from Liberty Park, 900 S. 500 East, to the Capitol. The rally starts at noon on the building's front steps.

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