Public Lands – Alliance for a Better Utah

Public Lands

Utah is home to some of the most bewitching landscapes in the world, including dozens of state parks and national monuments. Outdoor recreation is a huge part of Utah culture. We will fight to keep public lands public and to prevent the sale of Utah’s natural treasures to private entities. The mountains, the lakes, and the sandstone belong to everyone.

Read the Report

Check out the newest report from the ABU Education Fund on Utah’s dying coal industry and how we can begin moving forward.

Protect Grand Staircase Escalante

Learn more about one of our majestic national monuments and how it brings scientific, cultural, and economic benefits to our state.

Latest Blog Posts and News

Press Release: Better Utah Demonstrates How Millions of Dollars in Taxpayer Revenue Goes Up in Flames

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 6, 2018 BETTER UTAH DEMONSTRATES HOW MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAXPAYER REVENUE GOES UP IN FLAMES Salt Lake City, UT – Last night, money wasn’t simply being stored inside the Federal Reserve Building in downtown Salt Lake City — it was going up in flames outside. Alliance for a…

Legislators Turn a Deaf Ear to Native Voices

After the legislature’s call to rescind Bears Ears led the Outdoor Retailer trade show to relocate to Colorado, one would think our representatives would handle future land decisions more carefully and listen to constituents. Including input from those who occupy these lands and consider them sacred is not only the right thing to do, it’s…

My First Time Protesting

I’m not exactly sure what I expected from the protest against Trump’s decision to shrink national monuments. But I have to say, I loved what I saw. Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a protest for the first time with ABU. Although I was fairly aware of the issues regarding Bears Ears…

Maddie the Rock-Licker Has a Hard Think

Last week, Secretary Zinke delivered his monument review to President Trump, yet the public has only been able to see a summary of the report. Specific details regarding which monuments stand possible reduction were not included. (Fortunately it seems none will be completely eliminated; however, news reports are indicating reductions for Bears Ears and Grand…

Commentary: U.S. and Utah need to stop coddling domestic extremists

Source: Salt Lake Tribune and True Viral News Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke capped off a recent presidentially mandated review of national monuments by declaring, “I am an advocate to never sell or transfer public land, and so is the president.” His words were intended to be reassuring, but not to public land advocates….

SEC. ZINKE CALLS FOR MONUMENT REDUCTIONS

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 24, 2017 CONTACT:     Madison Hayes | Alliance for a Better Utah madison@betterutah.org   – – – – – – SEC. ZINKE CALLS FOR MONUMENT REDUCTIONS – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – After nearly three months of anticipation, Secretary of the Department of…

RadioActive: July 26, 2017

Source: KRCL Hosted by Lara Jones and Nick Burns, tonight’s RadioActive featured a host of guests getting ready to march or rally for public education, public lands, and medical cannabis. Guests included: Sarah Gene Hjalmarson, Board Member, Equality Utah, offers reaction and insight on the early morning tweets from Pres. Trump banning transgender individuals from…

Outdoor Retailer brings products, politics for last Utah show

Source: Deseret News The political and emotional tug-of-war over the destiny of Utah’s public lands is on center stage this week as Outdoor Retailer Summer Market begins its four-day run in Salt Lake City beginning Wednesday. This year’s event features former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who will keynote an industry breakfast on Wednesday with remarks…

BUSINESS OWNERS ADVOCATE FOR GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 7, 2017 – – – – – – BUSINESS OWNERS ADVOCATE FOR GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – With the public comment period deadline quickly approaching, business owners in the Grand Staircase region are concerned about the future of…

Business Owners Advocate for Monument

Check out this video of local business owners advocating for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument:  

June 2017 Interim Session – Boards, Commissions, Campaign Finance, and Poll Watchers Update

Government Operations Interim Committee – June 21 Review of Boards and Commissions with Legislative Participation To help make policy, the Legislature depends heavily on boards and commissions. These entities cover a variety of issues and policy areas, such as healthcare on the Health Reform Task Force, public lands on the Commission for the Stewardship of…

The Inside Utah Politics Panel weighs in on Bears Ears, national rhetoric & UTA Board

Source: Good 4 Utah This week Conservative Blogger Holly Richardson and Jeff Swift, LDS Democrats joined Chief Political Correspondent Glen Mills for the Inside Utah Politics Panel. The two weigh in on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s recommendation to downsize Bears Ears National Monument, the shooting at the republican congressional baseball team’s practice in…

Op-ed: Hatch and Noel are caught up in a coal pipe dream

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Kudos for transparency to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and state Rep. Mike Noel, whose intentions for reducing the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are abundantly clear. During the 2017 legislative session, Noel drafted a resolution explicitly calling for a reduction to access coal found on the Kaiparowits Plateau. When…

PRESS RELEASE: ESCALANTE BOULDER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE REITERATES ZINKE CALL: PROTECT GRAND-STAIRCASE ESCALANTE, PROTECT LOCAL ECONOMIES

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 8, 2017 CONTACT: Madison Hayes | Alliance for a Better Utah – – – – – ESCALANTE BOULDER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE REITERATES ZINKE CALL: PROTECT GRAND-STAIRCASE ESCALANTE, PROTECT LOCAL ECONOMIES – – – – – Salt Lake City – As Secretary Zinke prepares his final recommendation of the…

2017 Interim Session – Federalism Update

Commission on Federalism We had the joy of once again sitting in on Rep. Ken Ivory’s pet project for which he receives state taxpayer dollars, a.k.a., the Commission on Federalism. Now, don’t get us wrong — federalism is an important principle, one which our representative democracy was built upon. Federalism is what allows state to…

2017 Interim Session – Public Lands Update

Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee This meeting started late, much to the chagrin of committee chair, Sen. Margaret Dayton. (She hates that.) During the “Committee Business” portion at the beginning of the meeting, committee chair, Rep. Keven Stratton, mentioned potential studies for the committee to consider. Among them? “Oil and gas operations…and potential…

Better Utah Broadcast – Public Lands Discussion with Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Tune into our “Better Utah Broadcast” – listen to Maddie and Dave Pacheco here! Produced by Jarrell James Artwork by Kendra Black Subscribe on iTunes!

RadioActive May 10, 2017

Source: KRCL Utah’s environmental issues relating to public land and the push to gain control of those lands for private interests. Hosted by Loud & Clear’s Caleb and Emil: SLUG Magazine Stopped in to talk about their Annual Bike Issue. A panel discussion on Public Lands. Guests included Kailey Kornhouser of Wasatch Rising Tide, Braiden…

Bears Ears: Hatch, Utah delegation lead pushback effort

Sources: The Spectrum, Farmington Daily Times, and Deming Headlight After signing an executive order calling for a review of more than two dozen national monuments, President Donald Trump handed the pen to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, crediting the Utah Republican for being a driving force behind the order. “Believe me, he’s tough,” Trump said, nodding…

Trump puts Bull’s Eye on Bears Ears National Monument

Source: KSL.com President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed to end the “abuses” of the Antiquities Act and return power to the states, specifically mentioning the new Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah. Trump, in signing an executive order calling for a review of national monument designations over the past 21 years, said the action…

Utah delegates applaud Trump national monuments order

Source: The Spectrum Calling it a first step that could eventually lead to either the elimination or downsizing of Utah’s two largest national monuments, Utah officials applauded President Donald Trump Wednesday for signing an executive order to review the monument status of two decades worth of monument designations. With a number of Utah officials in…

Lawmakers, groups respond to Trump executive order on national monument desgination [sic]

Source: Good 4 Utah President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that reviews enforcement of the law that gives him power to designate lands as national monuments. The Federal Antiquities Act of 1906 gave the president of the United State the power set aside land for federal protection. The order, which Trump signed at…

Op-ed: Zinke should know Utah leaders don’t speak for all Utahns on Bears Ears

Source: Salt Lake Tribune When President Barack Obama proclaimed Bears Ears a national monument as one of his final acts in office, those opposing the designation took to calling it the “midnight monument” and condemned what they viewed as a sudden, unilateral declaration. They could not have been more wrong. In fact, the “abundant rock…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH CHASTISES STATE LAWMAKERS FOR CONTINUING RECKLESS PUBLIC LANDS RHETORIC

Salt Lake City, UT – This morning, the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee voted to favorably pass HCR 1, sponsored by Rep. K. Stratton. HCR 1 expresses legislative support for taking public lands from the protection of the federal government and handing over management to the state. One of the methods advocated in…

Utah lawmakers OK resolution pushing for public lands

Source: AP SALT LAKE CITY Utah lawmakers backed a resolution on Friday urging the state to be prepared to sue the U.S. government if Washington leaders don’t start handing over federal land to the state. Members of a House natural resources committee approved the proposal, despite concern from one lawmaker that it could be costly,…

ABU Legislative Update: Appropriations to Public Lands Lobbyists, Judicial Diversity, Good Landlords

Source: KCPW Chase Thomas from Alliance for a Better Utah joins KCPW’s Roger McDonough to talk about funding requests at the legislature related to public lands and threatened species. Millions of dollars have been allocated to nonprofits lobbying the federal government on Utah’s public lands agenda, but some lawmakers want better accounting on how that…

Fierce BLM critic Mike Noel wants to lead federal agency

Source: Desert News and KSL SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Noel was a 22-year career employee of the Bureau of Land Management, working in 1996 as the project lead on the proposed Smoky Hollow coal mine when it was swept up in a monument designation. About eight months after former President Bill Clinton’s surprise creation…

Conservation groups buck against Noel’s bid for BLM director

Source: The Spectrum Kane County’s own Mike Noel has been publicly campaigning for the position of director of the Bureau of Land Management, but a group of conservation advocates and outdoor recreation businesses are urging President Donald Trump’s administration to look elsewhere. The outspoken Republican legislator and backer of the state’s efforts to wrestle away…

Can Utah’s Mike Noel run the BLM, an agency he despises?

Source: Salt Lake Tribune As Utah state Rep. Mike Noel actively courts support for his bid to become the next director of the Bureau of Land Management, conservation and outdoor business interests are questioning the Kanab lawmaker’s ability to effectively run an agency he has relentlessly condemned since quitting it 20 years ago. “The BLM…

Press Release – UTAH BUSINESS, COMMUNITY AND ADVOCACY LEADERS OPPOSE REP. MIKE NOEL FOR BLM DIRECTOR

Salt Lake City, UT – Good government group, Alliance for a Better Utah, announced today that prominent business, community and advocacy leaders from around Utah joined together to send a letter to the Trump Administration’s transition team opposing the potential appointment of Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, as director of the Bureau of Land Management. Rep….

Op-ed: Past history says Noel would be disastrous for BLM

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune If one were to glance at his resume, Utah state Rep. Mike Noel may seem a good fit for the position of the director of the Bureau of Land Management. He worked for the BLM in the past; he lives in rural southern Utah; he speaks for causes he cares about….

Jim Dunnigan and Public Lands

Jim Dunnigan voted in favor of taking legal action leading to Utah’s control of federal lands. This bill – in its aim for state sovereignty – would mean your loss of hunting, fishing, and recreating grounds in favor of private interests. Dunnigan voted for a frivolous land grab lawsuit that would cost Utahns hundreds of millions…

Group launches petition asking Reyes to nix battle over federal lands

Source: KSL SALT LAKE CITY — Alliance for a Better Utah initiated an online petition Monday urging Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to nix a legal battle with the federal government over public lands. The organization, which describes itself as a promoter of “balance, transparency and accountability” in public policy, says it is making the request…

Newest poll shows Utahns still divided on Bears Ears monument

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune New polling indicates Utah voters are divided starkly over whether a Bears Ears National Monument should be designated for the archaeologically rich landscape in San Juan County. A 39 percent plurality opposes a monument, which President Barack Obama has been asked to designate under the Antiquities Act, while 33 percent…

BALLOTS NOT BULLETS COALITION DENOUNCES POSSIBLE VIOLENCE IN RESPONSE TO PROPOSED BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT

Salt Lake City, Utah – This past week, the Alliance for a Better Utah joined fellow members of the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition — a group of organizations from across the country concerned by the increasing use and threat of violence to influence public policy — in denouncing the possibility of armed confrontation in response…

OpEd: To the Petulant Men with Guns Trampling on Public Land in Oregon

Do you ever look back and cringe at the way you acted as a child when you didn’t get your way? Throwing fits. Refusing to do chores. Sneaking out at night.  Running away from home. Luckily, we eventually learned that it was better for us to leave that all behind once we joined the adult…

Outdoor Retailers invited to move to Idaho

Utah’s insistence on pursuing its losing battle over public lands could cost the state the Outdoor Retailer’s (OR) show.

Land grab plan is too damn risky

Last week saw the release of a long-awaited report on the feasibility of Utah managing federal lands. According to the report, Utah could conceivably take over the management of federal lands within our borders, and with the money derived from extractive industries, pay for its upkeep. First, the most obvious hitch in this whole plan…

Justice sort of served in Recapture Canyon case

Salt Lake City — Officials with Alliance for a Better UTAH delivered nearly 3,000 signatures to Utah BLM Director Juan Palma earlier this year, asking Palma to press charges against San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman for an illegal ATV protest he organized. In light of charges being filed today in that case, Maryann Martindale,…

Haters gonna hate

There is a saying, “If you don’t have enemies, you’re not doing it right.” You never know what is going to make people react. We’ve been around now for over three years. We’ve worked on redistricting, guns, sex-ed, corruption in the Attorney General’s office, less-than-ethical elected officials, just to name a few. But it took…

Op-ed: Hold Recapture Canyon ATV protesters accountable

It has been nearly two months since armed riders, led by San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, rode ATVs through Recapture Canyon to protest the canyon’s closure to motorized vehicles. Isaac Holyoak, communications director for Better UTAH, penned an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend, questioning Lyman’s claims to motorized access in…

State not equipped to manage national lands

The Utah Public Lands Policy Coordination Office (PLPCO) is currently spearheading a study on the potential economic benefits of federal lands being transferred to the State of Utah.  The study was approved through HB 142 during the Legislature’s 2013 General Session, and it is meant to coincide with the deadline stated in 2012’s HB 148,…

Utah’s Rep. Ken Ivory at center of national debate on public lands

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– The public land debate has garnered significant levels of public attention this year. If recent events are any indication, that interest is only set to increase. Several weeks ago the nation’s attention was captured when Nevada rancher Cliven…

Hold the recapture canyon trespassers accountable

Tim DeChristopher spent almost two years in prison for an act of civil disobedience when he peacefully disrupted a BLM oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City. The BLM aggressively pursued charges against DeChristopher. He broke the law and went to prison for it. Earlier this month, a group of protesters led by…

The week in letters: Bundy and Blanding

Federal lands policy took up much of the space in this week’s letters to the editor across the warming state of Utah. But a brief letter on voting rights is certainly worth your time, too. Bundy’s ‘nutcases’ may use women as shields So here is Cliven Bundy, building his myth on lies and cowardice. Generations…

Herbert sounds sensible on land use in Nevada

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Today’s Better UTAH Beat is not about a rancher in Nevada who has been ripping off taxpayers to the tune of one million dollars over the last two decades. It isn’t about his assemblage of a ragtag…

South Carolina gives Utah a thumbs up

Issues of state sovereignty are a perennial concern at the Utah State Legislature, so one can imagine lawmakers greeting with enthusiasm a recent resolution by first-to-secede-from-the-union-South Carolina that endorsed Utah’s fight to take control of public lands. TO EXPRESS SUPPORT TO THE WESTERN STATES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE FEDERAL TRANSFER OF PUBLIC LANDS…

Congressman Bishop Corners Market on Hypocrisy

Many Utahns are in an uproar over a letter sent by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) asking President Obama to designate the Greater Canyonlands area as a national monument. Few have been more indignant than Congressman Rob Bishop. In a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Bishop expressed dismay that the OIA would try…

Utah legislator rips D.C. while raking in federal cash

Ultimately, the Kane County Water Conservancy District envisions up to 700 connections in the area of Strawberry Ridge, including Zion View, the mostly primitive Skyhaven Mountain Retreat subdivision and 200 acres of undeveloped school-trust lands in the county. But if the Alliance for a Better Utah has anything to say about it, Noel won’t be…

63% of Utahns Oppose Unconstitutional Land-Grab

Previously, a poll was released showing that 60% of Utahns supported the unconstitutional land-grab bills, but it seems now that the public has learned of the millions of taxpayer dollars that would go into the frivolous lawsuit… the tune has changed. SALT LAKE CITY — A new poll commissioned by Republican environmentalists shows 63 percent…