Lee Statement on New Wilderness Recommendations

November 14, 2011

Last week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recommended to Congress that three areas in Utah—Desolation Canyon, Westwater Canyon, and Mill Creek Canyon—be federally designated as “wilderness areas.” In response, Senator Mike Lee is reiterating his position on federal land use:
“Like every other state, Utah knows what is best for Utah’s land,” said Senator Lee. “I will not support any new wilderness designations unless they are first considered and approved by the Utah state legislature.
“Roughly two thirds of Utah is already owned by some part of the federal government. While any other owner would pay property taxes on this land to the state, the federal government does not, depriving Utah of an enormous source of income. In addition, Washington’s pervasive overreach also affects countless groups that want to put a small portion of land to some sort of use. Utahns must go to the federal government, hat in hand, and ask permission to merely dig a well, or to build a road, or to bury cable, or indeed to do virtually anything.

"As a result, I believe the Utah legislature must first consider and approve proposed wilderness designations before any final determination is made at the federal level."