House Speaker Scott Bedke joined about 50 politicians from nine states Friday, to discuss ways to wrest control of public lands from federal management to state jurisdiction.
The daylong summit meeting itself was closed to the public, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. But afterwards, Bedke joined about a dozen other elected officials to argue for a transfer.
“It’s time the states in the West come of age,” Bedke said. “We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado.”
Public lands jurisdiction is a contentious issue with a K-12 education connection. Supporters of a transfer say states can better manage public lands, allowing multiple uses that would better fund education. Critics say the exorbitant cost of administration on millions of acres of public lands would exceed any new revenues from state-managed lands.