UTAH-INTERIOR DEAL THREATENS
PUBLIC LANDS GIVEAWAY
The Interior Department and the State of Utah are
trying -- with little luck -- to implement the agreement.
And learn how they are trying to spread the agreement to other states.
Read the Utah-Department
of the Interior's giveaway agreement
And read (with caution) DOI's propaganda touting the
agency's press release and
talking points (obtained through Freedom of Information Act
Read BLM's June 25, 2003, guidance on the MOU, which fails to
clarify the standards that will be used to address whether a
'constructed highway' exists, and which limit public comment and
Senator Joe Lieberman responded publicly to the agreement
Read a Fact Sheet
that debunks Department of the Interior 'spin'
on the Agreement
Read a letter from 87 members of Congress criticizing the use of
the disclaimer rule to grant bogus right-of-way claims, the very
mechanism the Utah-Interior agreement proposes to use
Read a letter from US Senator Jeff Bingaman questioning the
legality of the Utah agreement and the 'disclaimer rule' on which it
Read an editorial from the Salt Lake Tribune opposing the
Read a letter from Republican Colorado Governor Bill Owens
blasting the Utah-Interior deal as "accomplished in secret, closed
door meetings with no public process whatsoever."
Utah is now pressing its first 20 claims to "constructed highways"
under the Memorandum of Understanding.
Check in regularly at BLM's site to see what information they
have about pending right-of-way claim applications.
The Salt Lake Tribune published a November 3, 2003 article about the Bush Administration's plans to
surrender roads inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National
The Provo Herald published an article December 9,2003, about the state of
Utah's plans to begin pressing claims for RS 2477 "highways" early
Conservationists have urged the Interior Department to protect wild
places and use strict standards if the agency chooses to implement
the illegal MOU.
January 12, 2004, letter.
The State of Utah submitted its first application for
disclaimer on January 14, 2004, calling the MOU process a
"practical, fact-based method for resolving these long-disputed
issues relating to many" of Utah's claims. But at the same time, the
Governor's lawyers continued to refuse to allow the public access to
any documents about any claims (including their first application)
and continued to threaten to sue the Interior Department over any
and every RS 2477 among the 15,000 it identified on maps three years
the Utah Attorney General's January 12, 2004 letter stonewalling
the public (and insulting former Gov. Mike Leavitt to boot). Utah
posted a press release on its website ballyhooing their submission of their first road
claim. The story was also covered by the
Associated Press and the Salt Lake
Utah filed its first claim under the illegal
disclaimer rule in January 2004--read
excerpts from Utah's application.
The General Accounting Office issued a legal opinion
on February 6, 2004, concluding that the Utah-DOI agreement violates
a Congressional moratorium on rulemaking under R.S. 2477 and
therefore is illegal. Read the
Rep. Mark Udall issued a statement on February 10, 2004, stating
that the GAO's analysis proves the Bush Administration should
abandon its illegal plans, and work with Congress on balanced
Read Udall's statement.
Apparently unable to stomach even the minimal public
oversight permitted by the memorandum-of-understanding process, the
Utah Attorney General hinted that Utah was ready to abandon the MOU
and proceed to court to claim thousands of wash bottoms, foot
trails, cattle tracks, and jeep trails as "constructed highways."
Read the Salt Lake Tribune's May 20,2004, story and a May 25, 2004,
story from Greenwire.
In a win for open government, the Utah State Records
Committee voted 6-0 to require the Attorney General to release its
records on the first 20 routes that the state intends to claim under
the defective MOU. The AG had sought to keep secret the publicly
paid for information about alleged public highways over public
Read the Salt Lake Tribune's May 21,