This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Responding to requests from readers who want to know whom to vote against, here are the members of the Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands.
The co-chairmen are Sen. David P. Hinkins, R-Orangeville, and Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem. The other members are Sens. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, and Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, and Reps. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, Mike Noel, R-Kanab, and Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City.
The two Democrats Dabakis and Briscoe argued strenuously against the commission's approval of $14 million to pay for potential litigation to gain state control of 31 million acres of public land in Utah.
All six Republicans voted for the quixotic appropriation.
The panel was created by legislation Stratton sponsored in 2014. Its members are appointed by the House speaker and Senate president. By statute, two Democrats are required to be on the commission, but Briscoe and Dabakis have complained they were left out of the decision-making process.
The group earlier approved $500,000 to have a law firm evaluate the feasibility of pursuing a lawsuit for the transfer of public lands. The firm that concluded it is feasible could be in line to get the contract of up to $14 million to sue the feds.
No conflict there.
It's worth mentioning the history of some of the commission's members.
Brown, a former House speaker who left the Legislature for a few years before returning in 2007, was a lobbyist during his lawmaking hiatus and worked out a deal in which he and some other lobbyists purchased an option on land in Tooele owned by the Schools and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and then sold it to Allied Waste for a landfill and for a tidy profit. Some wondered why SITLA couldn't have just sold the land directly to Allied and cut out the middle man.
Ivory is president of the American Lands Council, which advocates throughout the country for local control of federal lands and operates from membership dues paid by organizations and local government agencies.
Noel, a longtime critic of federal land agencies, has successfully pushed the Legislature to allocate about $13 million to support efforts to assert counties' rights concerning backcountry roads. Noel's Kane County has spent an estimated $3 million on legal expenses for such roads. In 2009, he sponsored legislation that has allowed counties to divert a third of money they get from statewide gasoline taxes to cover litigation costs against the feds.
Noel also got the lands commission earlier this year to endorse state efforts to support embattled San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, who was convicted of leading an illegal ATV ride in a federally protected canyon.
So, no conflicts there either.
Meanwhile • The Permanent Community Impact Fund Board operates under the jurisdiction of the Utah Department of Workforce Services to provide loans or grants to state agencies and local governments affected by mineral resource development on federal lands.
Its membership is set by statute and includes representatives from various state agencies. It also includes county commissioners representing regional government associations. Those members are San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams, Sanpete County Commissioner Claudia Jarrett, Duchesne County Commissioner Ron Winterton, Kane County Commissioner Jim Matson, Uintah County Commissioner Michael McKee and Carbon County Commissioner Jae Potter.
The counties represented are noteworthy since that board just approved a $53 million investment in an Oakland, Calif., terminal that would take coal from eastern Utah and ship it overseas.
Critics say the funding is illegal, arguing the fund, which is fueled by federal royalties from mineral and energy development, isn't for such projects.
But, hey, it will benefit the coal mines that have operations in the aforementioned regions.