During a time when the economy is at the forefront of our minds, Utah is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in energy royalties while the federal government manages more than half the land within state boundaries.
Candidate for Utah's 2nd Congressional district, Chris Stewart, has made several stops in southern Utah to hear concerns on issues critical to the economy and quality of life.
Kanab residents gathered at a town hall meeting Saturday to discuss land access, resources, and energy. The Grand Staircase Escalante Monument covers about 80-percent of Kane and Garfield County, creating funding challenges for local governments and preventing access to 4.5 billion tons of low-sulphur, high-BTU coal plus potential oil, gas, and other strategic minerals.
"We, the people of Utah, are capable of protecting our own backyard from abuse or exploitation. We are capable of protecting the true wilderness that we love -- indeed, the reasons that many of us have chosen to live here -- without cutting off so many of our lands to multiple use," Stewart said.
It's estimated between 67 to 75 percent of Utah is federal land, Stewart said, although the truth is no one knows because the government isn't even capable of conducting an accurate inventory of its holdings.
"Many of these public lands could be -- and should be -- controlled and administered by the state. If they choose, states should be allowed to sell these de-federalized lands to private entities," Stewart said.
Stewart is holding a town hall meeting Tuesday, August 21st from 7 p.m. -8 p.m. in St. George at the Lexington Hotel- 850 South Bluff Street.