“We have to start managing these lands. It’s the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms.”
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Officials from nine Western states met in Salt Lake City on Friday to discuss taking control of federal lands within their borders on the heels of a standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management.
The lawmakers and county commissioners discussed ways to wresting oil-, timber- and mineral-rich lands away from the feds. Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart said it was in the works before this month’s standoff.
The BLM rounded up hundreds of Bundy’s cattle, saying he hasn’t paid more than $1 million in grazing fees he owes for trespassing on federal lands since the 1990s. But Bundy does not recognize federal authority on the land, which his family has used since the 1870s.
The BLM released the cattle after a showdown last weekend with angry armed protesters whom Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid referred to as “domestic terrorists.”
“What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem,” Lockhart said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.