At least four groups of interests have a stake in the future of federal lands in Utah: recreationalists, the mining industries, environmentalists and the state itself. The intersection of these interests often seems impassable. And with two-thirds of the state land in the hands of the federal government, the issue commands a lot of attention.
But while grand solutions are elusive, Utah has been successful at making small but significant steps toward resolutions. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert finalized such a solution this week.
At the start of his first Outdoor Recreation Summit on Thursday, Herbert announced the finalization of a deal in which Utah gives the federal government 25,000 acres of wilderness in Grand County and other parts of eastern Utah in exchange for about 35,000 acres, mainly in Uintah County, that contains untapped energy resources.
The swap was approved by Congress in 2009. Still, it took five years to work out the details. Patience is a key in dealing with these contentious issues. The governor and other officials are to be commended for carefully working through the stumbling blocks. Too often, the federal government exhibits little patience as it seeks to impose its will. (…)