Utah land grab: How could the state afford to maintain federal lands?

Arches National Park in Utah
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The Great Utah Land Grab wasn’t some 19th-century Old West trick involving Mormons and a corrupt sheriff.

It’s going on now, and it’s terrifying, writes Scott Groene in an opinion for the Salt Lake Tribune. Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert, is doing the grabbing, trying to wrest land from the federal government.

That would include federally maintained lands in wilderness, national parks and national monuments. Herbert’s claim is that there are “road” designations all throughout those areas, so the state should get control of them.

There are all sorts of theories for why Herbert’s doing this — leasing out the lands to oil and gas companies is a distinct possibility — but one thing’s for certain: He can’t afford it.

The state just can’t take on the $3 billion over 10 years it would cost to maintain those federal lands, Groene writes.

See the opinion at the Salt Lake Tribune.