Public Lands Initiative To Be Unveiled March 27

February 9, 2015

Cong BishopSALT LAKE CITY — Its been a long time in coming, The much-awaited, much-touted public lands initiative dubbed the “Grand Bargain” is slated to be released in draft form March 27, along with a map that designates land-use for a huge chunk of eastern Utah. Utah’s congressional delegation announced last week,they are putting the final touches on the massive proposal, which involves a geographic blueprint covering 18 million acres of federal lands and 1.6 million acres of wilderness study areas in the state. Congressman  Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the chief architect of the process, said the draft measure is giant in scope. Bishop says, “I think we will have a decent bill that will be big,” “It will provide all sorts of things for everybody, and something for everybody to complain about.” On Feb. 15, participants in the process will mark a three-year milestone of negotiation, bartering, compromise, concessions and begrudging acceptance as they have worked through more than 60 detailed proposals.

Seven counties — Carbon, Daggett, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Summit and Uintah — are seated at the table, as well as 120 interest groups that include the oil and gas industry, archaeological associations, environmental organizations, sportsmen clubs and conservation interests. Bishop said it will be time for those diverse interests to show how committed they are to abandoning litigation and the bickering that has dominated discussions over how to use the land. Bishop cautioned that no one should expect to be completely satisfied, however. “I hope everyone realizes that the goal is to produce some finality here,” he said. “We can’t let loose ends lie. If some people are upset because they did not get everything, I cannot solve for that. No one is going to get everything they want. I will not create a process that allows the lawsuits and bickering to continue on. If we do that, we are wasting time.”

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