This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The House endorsed a not-so-modest proposal on Wednesday: It called for Congress to give Utah the right, title and jurisdiction over the 22.6 million acres in its boundaries that are now overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
That is about two times more than the 11.5 million acres of private land in the state.
Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, introduced HJR39, which the House passed on a 61-9 vote and sent to the Senate. It demands that Utah be given that land because of mismanagement by federal officials and contends that the law that made Utah a state promised to sell that land into private ownership.
"We have suffered injury," Barrus said. "We call on Congress to revisit how public lands are being managed by the BLM."
Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said Barrus is misreading the law that created Utah and said the federal government never required itself to sell off public lands in Utah. He said it would be wiser for Utah to negotiate for better treatment of public lands rather than pass such resolutions.
Barrus said, however, that Utah was promised sovereignty over its areas, and as long as the federal government has "control of two-thirds of the land mass of the state, we will not have that kind of sovereignty."