Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt slams Utah's push to control federal lands

Industrials Associated Press

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt says Utah's push to take control of federal lands in the state is a radical measure and a threat to the outdoor recreation industry.

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Babbitt made his comments Thursday morning to a group of outdoor recreation company representatives in Salt Lake City for the biannual Outdoor Retailer show. Babbitt was speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Conservation Alliance.

A deadline Utah set for the federal government to hand over 31 million acres of public land quietly passed earlier this month with no such transfer, something predicted by both critics and supporters.

Utah says it would be a better land manager and that local control would allow the state to make money from taxes and development rights on those acres.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert didn't immediate have comment.