Controversies over jurisdiction and management of public lands are building. Whether grazing rights disputes in Nevada or New Mexico, alarm over federal disinterest in long recognized local partnerships for management of multi-use lands, BLM review of millions of acres to balance factors like environmental justice, and complaints of forest maintenance hazards, states are increasingly concerned. Western states contend that return of public lands to state control would generate a North Dakota-like renaissance of jobs, access to resources, and economic activity. Several Western states are investigating the legal basis for challenging federal retention of these public multi-use lands as described in state charter enabling acts. The state of Utah now has statutory authority to sue the federal government for return of its lands in January, 2015. How sound is the legal case, and what are the economic implications for the Western states -- as well as the country in general? What are the environmental policy issues and is state stewardship of these lands best?
- Hon. Ken Ivory, State Representative, Utah House of Representatives
- Prof. Donald J. Kochan, Professor of Law, Chapman University School of Law
- Carl Graham, Director, Center for Self-Government in the West, Sutherland Institute
- David Garbett, Staff Counsel, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance