U Law Profs Say Utah Takeover of Fed Lands Not Legal

October 31, 2014
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Canyonlands2(Salt Lake City)-University of Utah legal scholars released a white paper Wednesday concluding the state has no legal basis to demand the federal government turn over title to public lands. Some state lawmakers have clamored for the state to sue after passing a law in 2012 demanding the feds give the state 30 million acres by Dec. 31.Suing would not only be a waste of money, but also set back efforts to resolve conflicts over public land management, according to John Ruple, a research fellow with the U. law school’s Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment.

“We recognize there are legitimate questions about how federal lands are managed and there is room for disagreement, but demanding the federal government give those lands to the state is legally untenable,” said Ruple, who co-wrote the paper with the center’s director, law professor Robert Keiter

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