SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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HEARING ON H.R. 1952 AND H.R. 1500 TO DESIGNATE CERTAIN FEDERAL LANDS AND BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT LANDS, IN THE STATE OF UTAH AS WILDERNESS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 1997WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10533
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah, Chairman
ELTON, GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
RICK HILL, Montana
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
ALLEN FREEMYER, Counsel
TOD HULL, Professional Staff
LIZ BIRNBAUM, Democratic Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Hearing held June 24, 1997
Statements of Members:
Cannon, Hon. Chris, a Representative in Congress from the State of Utah
Cook, Hon. Merrill, a Representative in Congress from the State of Utah
Faleomavaega, Hon. Eni, a Delegate in Congress from the Territory of American Samoa
Gilchrest, Hon. Wayne, a Representative in Congress from the State of Maryland
Hansen, Hon. James V., a Representative in Congress from the State of Utah
Prepared statement of
Hinchey, Hon. Maurice, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York
Prepared statement of
Vento, Hon. Bruce, a Representative in Congress from the State of Minnesota
Statements of witnesses:
Harja, John A., Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration
Johnson, Randy, County Commissioner, Emery County, Utah
Judd, Joe, County Commissioner, Kane County, Utah
Liston, Louise, County Commissioner, Garfield County, Utah
McIntosh, Heidi J., Legal Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMeadows, William H., President, The Wilderness Society
Sease, Debbie, Legislative Director, Sierra Club
Additional material supplied:
H.R. 1500 briefing paper
Text of H.R. 1952
Text of H.R. 1500
HEARING ON H.R. 1952 AND H.R. 1500, TO DESIGNATE CERTAIN FEDERAL LANDS AND BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT LANDS, IN THE STATE OF UTAH AS WILDERNESS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands, Committee on Resources, Washington, DC.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:15 a.m., in room 1334, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. James V. Hansen (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES V. HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Mr. HANSEN. The Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands convenes to once again address the issue of Utah BLM wilderness. We have proposals from Mr. Cannon and Mr. Hinchey before us, and I commend these members for their hard work.
Although this has been a hotly contested issue over the past 20 years in the State of Utah, and recently on a national scale, it was this subcommittee that actually brought the issue to the forefront last Congress.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Utah Delegation, the Governor, the counties, and the people of Utah entered a very long and arduous public process to attempt to find a way to resolve this issue. Many have wondered why I would be willing to engage in this debate once again, given we have the same Administration, the same players in the House and Senate.
We must undertake this issue again because it needs to be solved for the State of Utah and for the benefit of the lands we all want to protect. I am proud of the millions of acres of wilderness I have helped designate in Utah and all over this Nation. I firmly believe we need to protect the true wilderness areas of southern Utah.
All of the issues in southern Utah that are gaining national attention revolve around the wilderness issue. RS 2477 rights-of-way, the wilderness reinventory by Secretary Babbitt, resource activities on public lands, and the designation of the new monument all hinge on the designation of wilderness.
This process began over 20 years ago with the passage of the 1976 Federal Land Policy Management Act. Since that time, the professionals at the BLM spent over 15 years and over $10 million to study and inventory the BLM lands of Utah pursuant to FLPMA. In 1991, the BLM recommended that 1.9 million acres should be designated as wilderness of the 3.2 million acres that are in Wilderness Study Areas.
Many, including Secretary Babbitt, disavow that entire process, yet it has been upheld in Federal Court, and it is this process under which these lands are currently protected. This is the base from which we work, and certainly H.R. 1952 reflects the recommendations of the BLM. H.R. 1500, on the other hand, represents an effort started by Wayne Owens to protect 5.3 million acresas you may recall, that was the amount that Wayne had in his billthat is supported by the environmental community.
I would like to remind the Subcommittee that the counties originally recommended approximately 1 million acres, and the Utah Delegation doubled their suggestions last Congress. I would also like to remind the Committee that the State legislature did a 2-year exhaustive studya very expensive study, and they recommended 1.4 million acres.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the same time, it has been made clear by the supporters of H.R. 1500 that they will hold for 5.7 million acres, which they are entitled to do. The formation of public policy requires compromise, creative solutions, and doing what is right for this country. I would encourage all those engaged in this debate to work toward a solution as opposed to working toward further polarization.
During the 104th Congress, the debate stepped outside the bounds of the wilderness debate, and the rhetoric began to take personal shots at those involved in the issues on both sides. Mr. Hinchey and myself are colleagues. I respect his opinions, and he has been a gentleman throughout this process. In fact, Mr. Hinchey has authored a letter to the Utah press condemning those who make personal attacks. I appreciate his efforts, and this should always be above personal attacks on anyone.
I welcome our witnesses today. And I realize this is a shorter notice than some would prefer, but I believe all sides are adequately represented today. I hope we can hear testimony that moves us toward a solution. Simply tearing apart another proposal does little as far as educating the members and the public. I hope we can focus on the lands we need to protect and talk about positive ways to finally designate BLM wilderness in Utah.
I have to say respectfully that I am just a little weary of people saying we haven't given this adequate attention. I don't know of an issue in my 38 years as an elected official that has had more attention than this one. I don't want to put you all to sleep, but I could tick off the numbers of Congressmen from both the State of Utah and other States who have been to Utah to look at these lands.
I am tired of going to every one of them. I have personally been on every piece of this. I have looked at them. I have tried to use the standard of what constitutes wilderness and what does not. And hopefully we can come up with a compromise.
Our friend from Minnesota has to do a unanimous consent on the floor, and if the gentleman from American Samoa would give him the mike at this time, I would appreciate it.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Prepared statement of Mr. Hansen follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES V. HANSEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
The Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands convenes to once again address the issue of Utah BLM wilderness. We have proposals from Mr. Cannon and Mr. Hinchey before us and I commend these Members for their hard work. Although this has been a hotly contested issue over the past 20 years in the State of Utah, and recently on a national scale, it was this Subcommittee that actually brought this issue to the forefront last Congress. The Utah Delegation, the Governor, the Counties and the people of Utah entered a very long and arduous public process to attempt to find a way to resolve this issue. After over 50 public meetings, thousands of personal and written testimonies and three Congressional hearings, we were still at an impasse over acreage and other issues. Many might wonder why I would be willing to engage in this debate once again given we have the same administration and the same players in the House and Senate. We must undertake this issue again because it needs to be solved for the State of Utah and for the benefit of the lands we all want to protect. I am proud of the millions of acres of wilderness I have helped designate in Utah and all over this nation and I firmly believe we need to protect the true wilderness areas of Southern Utah. All of the issues in Southern Utah that are gaining national attention revolve around the wilderness issue. RS 2477 rights-of-way, the wilderness re-inventory by Secretary Babbitt, resource activities on public lands and the designation of the new Monument all hinge on the designation of wilderness.
This process began over 20 years ago with the passage of the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Since that time, the professionals at the BLM spent over 15 years and over $10 million to study and inventory the BLM lands of Utah pursuant to FLPMA. In 1991, the BLM recommended that 1.9 million acres should be designated as wilderness of the 3.2 million acres that are in wilderness study status. Many, including Secretary Babbitt, disavow that entire process yet it has been held up in Federal Court and it is the process under which these lands are currently protected. This is the base from which we work and certainly H.R. 1952 reflects the recommendations of the BLM. H.R. 1500, on the other hand, represents an effort started by Wayne Owens to protect 5.7 million acres that is supported by the environmental community. I would like to remind the Subcommittee that the Counties originally recommended approximately one million acres and the Utah Delegation doubled their suggestions last Congress. At the same time, it has been made clear by the supporters of H.R. 1500 that they will only settle for 5.7 million acres. The formation of public policy requires compromise, creative solutions and doing what is right for this country. I would encourage all those engaged in this debate to work toward a solution as opposed to working toward further polarization.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC During the 104th Congress the debate stepped outside the bounds of the wilderness debate and the rhetoric began to take personal shots at those involved in this issue. Mr. Hinchey and myself are colleagues, I respect his opinions and he has been a gentleman throughout this process. In fact, Mr. Hinchey authored a letter to the Utah press last year that condemned personal attacks during this process. I appreciate his efforts to keep this debate above a level that leads us to nowhere.
I welcome our witnesses today. I realize this was shorter notice than some would prefer but I believe all sides are adequately represented today and I hope we can hear testimony that moves us toward a solution. Simply tearing apart another proposal does little as far as educating the Members and the public. I hope we can focus on the lands we need to protect and talk about positive ways to finally designate BLM wilderness in Utah.
[Text of H.R. 1952 may be found at end of hearing.]
[Text of H.R. 1500 may be found at end of hearing.]
[H.R. 1500 briefing paper may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, I would gladly defer to my good friend from Minnesota at this time.
Mr. VENTO. Well, I thank the member for
Mr. HANSEN. We will recognize the gentleman from Minnesota.
STATEMENT OF HON. BRUCE VENTO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. VENTO. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have listened carefully to your remarks, and I hear a lot of positive words this morning in terms of the consideration of these two bills. I note that there is concern about the Administration not being present to testify today and some of the Utah witnesses that were not able to accommodate the schedule, although I note that you sent the schedule out last week according to the rules and so forth. But I think there is a desire to hear from the Administration and perhaps some other witnesses on the matter.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think it is especially important because the measure that we have before usa new measure, H.R. 1952, is not simply a designation bill but a bill that attempts to consolidate land in Utah by taking lands that would be within the wildernessState lands within the wilderness and consolidating or trading them out. I think that that is the purpose of it.
Although I haven't studied this carefully, I will read the testimony of our colleague that has introduced it. And I want to welcome both of our colleagues, my colleague on the Banking Committee, Mr. Chairman. Merrill has the duty of sitting in front of me as I speak once in a while. On that committee Merrill and I
Mr. COOK. And it is a great pleasure.
Mr. VENTO. His friendship and his tolerance of my observations on financial institution matters, the last week especially as we tried to finish up some work. But, Mr. Chairman, my experience with this, as you have indicated, goes back at the behest of a member from Utah; held hearings on land consolidation and had the wisdom of the former Governor, Scott Matheson, in terms of his efforts to consolidate land in Utah. We held that hearing in Utah, and for one reason or another it didn't work out.
But I think that in working together with you we have made some good strides in terms of land consolidation which is important. I have come to realize that the school section is looked upon as being an important component, if not today, in the future in terms of supporting the schools in Utah.
As a former educator and teacherscience teacher actually, Mr. Chairman, I am especially impressed with the idea and the concerns that people in Utah have with regards to appropriate level of support for elementary and secondary education. I know that today the amount of revenue raised from these is very small compared to what the total dollars are that are invested in Utah, but it makes a difference in terms of what happens to kids.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we obviously want to accord you and others that have this mixture of public lands, whether it is in BLM or Forest Service or happens to be in wilderness, the opportunity to utilize that particular resource.
Nevertheless, Mr. Chairman, one of the main controversies here, as you know, goes back over a decade. We have been working on this for almost 10 years, and I share your concern about bringing it to a conclusion. And the fact is with the 22 million acres of land, only about 3.5 million were formally studied. I think that most of us wouldmost thought that there should have been a greater amount that was studied. That particular controversy has carried through to the consideration of bills on Utah and the wilderness designation.
A former member, of course, introduced a bill that had a significantly greater number of acres. Mo Hinchey has picked up on that particular view and has presented it. There is, as you know, a lot of support and opposition to that bill, and, of course, the recent designationthe monument designation by the President has engendered greater polarization.
So I think, you know, all of us have to kind of slow things down and pull it back together and go forward from where we are. I would do my best if we can come to some agreement with regards to wilderness and monument designationwhatever modifications or changes to any of these bills.
I certainly want to work with you and Congressman Hinchey and the other members of the Utah Delegation to put my abilities and talent to work so that we can resolve this issue and do a good job in terms of designation and park designation. In order to do that though, we have to obviously sit down and work and act in good faith.
And I think, Mr. Chairman, that your comments today and some of the other actions that will take place will, of course, lead us in that direction. And hearing from the Administration and other witnesseswe have got a little time this year. I hope that we indeed can do that.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And with that, Mr. Chairman, I apologize. I have to leave shortly, but I wanted you all to know, the folks from Utah that are here today and the members, of my continued interest in this matter. And if I have to absent myself, it will only be, Merrill, because I have to go over and do a banking bill. I take care of everything greenthe money and the landand a few red rocks.
Mr. HANSEN. We will get you a few, Bruce. We thank the gentleman from Minnesota for his comments. The gentleman from American Samoa, Mr. Faleomavaega.
STATEMENT OF HON. ENI FALEOMAVAEGA, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF AMERICAN SAMOA
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Chairman, as we saw in the 104th Congress, the consideration of the Utah wilderness legislation can be quite controversial, to say the least. And, Mr. Chairman, I know of your deep, personal interest in this matter, and it is probably more than anyone sitting on this panel has had, the experience of knowing just about everything and anything there is dealing with wilderness in Utah.
So I truly respect your opinion and your efforts in trying to find some sense of resolution to this issue, as I am sure also the case of our good friend and colleague from New York, Congressman Hinchey, and his version of what should be wilderness.
And I guess with this backdrop, Mr. Chairman, I have just a little concern that perhaps if more notice or opportunity could be given not only to the Administration but to other members of the Committee, we could at least have had a chance to review the proposed bill offered by our good friend from Utah, Congressman Cannon.
And I certainly have the utmost respect for my friend from Utah, but the short notice just did not give us a chance to properly review the substance of the proposal. But I am sure that this is the reason why we have a hearing, and I certainly want to personally welcome both Congressman Cook and Congressman Cannon for their presence and their testimony before the subcommittee.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I look forward to working together with you on this proposed version that we have now before the subcommittee, and I sincerely hope that there will be a resolution to this and hopefully also that there may be another opportunity for a hearing concerning these two bills. And with that in mind, I look forward to hearing the testimonies.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. I appreciate the comments from the gentleman from American Samoa, who is really a misplaced Utahan as he went to BYU, which I won't hold against him at all. The gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Gilchrest.
STATEMENT OF HON. WAYNE GILCHREST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I too look forward to the testimony from the witnesses today and will stay as long as I can with our other duties around this great Nation's capital. But I think, Mr. Chairman, this is a situation that people can sit down across the table and resolve so that the children in the State of Utah can get a good education, that the area can be enjoyed as far as recreational purposes, and wilderness areas are concerned from the people of Utah and from the people around this great country.
And the people of Utah and the people of this country are looking to us as representatives to sit down and figure out how we can accommodate both of these things. It always boils down to me, at any rate, when we are looking at issues that are somehow directly or indirectly related to environmental issues, it boils down to lung tissue and mortgage payments.
We all need lung tissue, and we all need to pay our bills. And if we could sit down and talk about these things, I think we would be able to come to a pretty good and reasonable solution that we all could agree on. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for having this hearing.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman from Maryland. We are pleased to have our two Congressmen from Utah, other than myself, Congressman Merrill Cook from the Second District and Congressman Chris Cannon from the Third District. Mr. Cannon is the author of this bill, and, therefore, as the rules of our Committee, we will hear from him first. Normally, we would hear from Mr. Hinchey and then Merrill Cook. And if Mr. Hinchey walks in, we will go in that direction. Chris, we will turn the time to you, sir.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. CHRIS CANNON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and fellow Committee members. I am delighted to testify before you today on the issue of Utah wilderness. I am particularly pleased to be sitting at the witness table with my friend and colleague from the Second District, Merrill Cook, and look forward to what he has to say on this issue as well.
I represent Utah's Third Congressional District which is a vast and sprawling area about the size of Ohio. My district stretches from snowcapped mountains of the Wasatch front to the red rock vistas of southern Utah. I have four national parks, several national monuments, including a particularly large one that has been in the press a bit over the past few months. We also have several national forests.
I also represent the vast majority of the areas under debate in this Utah wilderness bill. As this subcommittee abundantly knows, wilderness has been, and is today, a terribly divisive issue in Utah.
In fact, my first proposal on coming to Congress on this issue was for a cooling off period whereby no legislation would be introduced during this session. My thought was that the best thing would be to do nothing to allow for discussion rather than confrontation.
So why did I introduce H.R. 1952 last week? The answer can be found in the title of my bill. It is the Utah Wilderness and School Trust Lands Protection Act of 1997. I have explicitly linked the issue of Utah wilderness and protection of Utah school trust lands because the issues are inextricably intertwined.
Acreage is not the focus of my bill. Protection of Utah school children is. H.R. 1952 contains about 2.1 million acres of wilderness. Frankly, I am not terribly wedded to the acreage issue. It is not, in my mind, the most important at all. I believe that the law and the science will guide us to a reasonable conclusion about how much acreage and which acreage should be included.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In my mind, wilderness designation should be based on those two issues; that is, the law and the science. It may well be that we need to have more acres than 2.1 million. I am completely open to that possibility. Or it may be that we should have considerably less. There are certainly some arguments for that as well. But that is an issue that I hope we debate rationally and calmly in the future.
School trust lands are worthy of immediate scrutiny. Utah became a State in 1896, and the State, like most western States, was divided into townships. A township is six miles by six miles, and so every township would be divided in about 36 sections of a mile square.
In order to support Utah's schools, the Congress granted to Utah, as it did with most western States, an endowment of school trust lands in each township. And in Utah, that was four sections for every township.
School trust lands were meant to be developed. The only way the revenues can be generated is by some form of development, whether by land sales, leasing, mining, timber, and development of some other similar activity. And I am pleased to note that that is acknowledged in at least the testimony that was supplied in advance by some of our witnesses who oppose or who wish to have a great deal more land set aside in Utah.
Other western States have been able to use their trust lands to generate substantial revenues for their schools. So, for instance, in New Mexico, they have a trust with $3.9 billion generating an income to New Mexico schools of about $275 million.
Our neighboring State of Wyoming uses its school trust lands to generate in excess of $110 million a year for Wyoming schools. Yet, Utah has struggled to generate revenue for the school trust lands, mostly because of the effect of Federal land management decisions on those school trust areas.
The fundamental problem is the Federal Government is very good at making land designations, a monument, a national forest, or a national park, but very poor at remembering afterwards to take care of school trust lands. The fact is that Federal land designations have the effect of harming the value of school trust lands that are so encompassed.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Restrictive land designations such as wilderness have the effect of trapping school trust lands and sections by restricting access, precluding economic development, and often simply discouraging potential entrepreneurs from seriously considering any form of economic activity.
My guiding principle on the issue of wilderness is simple. Wilderness designation should not come at the expense of Utah schools. Within the 2.1 million acres of my proposed wilderness are about 140,000 acres of school trust lands. My bill ensures that Utah's 473,000 students and 22,000 teachers are not hit in the pocketbook by preserving the full value of all school trust lands impacted by the wilderness designation.
H.R. 1952 contains three provisions. First, any new wilderness areas officially transferred to the National Wilderness Preservation Systemthat is before any new wilderness areas are transferred the included school trust lands must first, repeat first be exchanged for other lands. This is a precondition, not an afterthought.
Second, my bill allows Utah School Trust Lands Administration to pick unappropriated lands for trades rather than rely on the Department of the Interior to come forth with a possible land trade package. The Secretary of Interior can object to lands selected but only on the narrow question of valuation. Thus, disputes over trades will be narrower and more focused than under the current practice.
Third, my bill creates authorization authority to reimburse Utah School Trust Lands Administration for their costs in conducting an exchange. This is an important point. Exchanges with the Federal Government are extremely expensive. Appraisals cost money. Planning costs money. The ever-present litigation over valuation-related issues adds a hefty tag. All these are probably necessary expenses, but these are expenses that when triggered by Federal action should be borne by the Federal Government, not Utah school children.
Let me briefly contrast the school trust land language in my bill with the language of H.R. 1500 by my colleague from New York. H.R. 1500, by designating 5.7 million acres as wilderness, would impact the value of about 630,000 acres of Utah school trust lands. This 630,000 acres is a considerable amount of land. It is an area roughly a third the size of Connecticut.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Certainly, this is an issue that should be of some concern to the subcommittee, but it is not an issue of concern in H.R. 1500. In fact, there is not one word about protecting Utah school trust lands in H.R. 1500. This is simply unacceptable.
Federal land protection must not come at the expense of education in my State. That is why I would encourage the subcommittee to analyze both of our bills side by side. I strongly believe that H.R. 1952 does a better job in balancing the competing interests of our environment, local economic development, and protection of Utah schools. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Cannon. I appreciate your testimony. We will turn to our friend from the Second District, the Honorable Merrill Cook. Merrill?
STATEMENT OF HON. MERRILL COOK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF UTAH
Mr. COOK. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and other members of the Committee. I very much appreciate this opportunity to testify for a few minutes about a very, very important issue and an issue that has been debated and argued over and fought over for many, many yearsseveral decades.
And I think the Salt Lake District that I represent, the Second Districtthe debate has been no more intense anywhere else in this country because people feel very strongly about wilderness, about the process by which wilderness is created, about our new monument, and about education and the school trust lands. And I really wanted to come here to endorse the concepts behind H.R. 1952.
I don't necessarily agree with the acreage that is listed in 1952, and I don't agree with the acreages that are listed in H.R. 1500. But I am very appreciative that both of these bills have come forward, and I have to say I have been very impressed with Mr. Hinchey's real concern about the lands in Utah, his interest, and his I think decent and honorable spirit of approaching it.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I was also impressed that in the heat of a campaign last year he wrote a letter to the largest newspaper in my district and expressed his goodwill toward the Chairman of this Committee and toward the whole process. So although I may disagree with both Mr. Hinchey and Mr. Cannon in terms of the total number of acres that are contained in their bill, I really do applaud the process.
But I have to say that H.R. 1952 that has been introduced by my colleague from the Third District in Utah at least talks about some very important issues, links, and things that Mr. Hinchey's bill simply does not do. We have to be able to solve or resolve to whatever extent possible this whole question of school trust lands as we designate wilderness.
Now, just yesterday I made the point that over 176,000 acres of school trust lands are contained within the national monument that was created last year, and I think it is closer to 500,000 to 600,000 acres of school trust lands that are contained within the designations that would be if H.R. 1500 were passed into law, and obviously a lot less but I think something over 250,000 or around 200,000 acres if H.R. 1952 is enacted.
So the point is whether it be 200,000 or 500,000 acres of school trust lands, this question, as my colleague, Chris Cannon has indicated, really has to be taken into account and resolved in some manner. And I think the exchange approach where trust officials in the State of Utah have some say, that it is not just totally decided by the BLM, the Interior Department, that at leastand it may have to be worked out by bothI acknowledge thatbut some kind of an exchange process so that we can consolidate the lands. It is very important.
I notice that Mr. Vento indicated that this was going to be a whole newopening up a whole new area. But I think this goes to the heart of what a proper and reasonable wilderness designation may turn out to be. If we could solve the questions or have answers in this bill to school trust lands, to other private property rights, to the status of roads that have been there for decades in many cases, to the other questions that are always coming up, then it will be a wonderful thing for the people of Utah to bring closure.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I submit that the total number of acres is totally dependent upon how those questions are answered. In other words, if there could be absolutely no exchange of school State trust lands, then I really couldn't in good conscience vote for any additional wilderness designation on the Utah BLM lands. I just could not vote for a bill that would absolutely ignore the school trust lands issue, even if it were a proposal of half a million acres less than what have already been supported by members of the Utah Delegation.
So that is how strongly I feel, but on the other hand, I feel that the acreages that were determined years ago during the Wilderness Study Area phases of this might well be a reasonable number if we can get the exchanges and the protection of the property rights and the road questions and all the other things resolved.
Because the bottom line, and I will finish my statement with this point, the people of the Salt Lake Valley that I represent, they want wilderness designations but they also want jobs. They want lung tissue, and they want to be able to make their mortgage payments, as Mr. Gilchrest has stated in his opening statement. They want the balance. That is in the nature of the people of the State of Utah. It is in the nature of the people of my district to want a balance.
And I just happen to believe very strongly that no resolution of this issue will ever take place without it taking place in a bipartisan manner. I will just say now I don't think, unless Mr. Hansen and Mr. Cannon and Mr. Vento and others that I think have been very moderate and reasonable in this whole debateunless they can agree, and, yes, I will include Mr. Millerunless all of you can agree, I don't think this will ever happen.
And I do think there is an opportunity for compromise, and I think that is what we ought to look for. We ought to make the linkages that the Chris Cannon bill talks very clearly about, and we ought to get onwe ought to solve it in the 105th Congress because I don't think it is useful for the people of the State of Utah, indeed for this country, to keep punting this question into the 106th Congress, 107th Congress as it has been punted into the 105th Congress by previous Congresses. Again, I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to make this statement.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Cook. I appreciate your comments. Questions for our colleagues? Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Chris, can you explain a little bit how New Mexico ended up with a $3.9 billion trust earning $275 million for their school childrenapparently, I mean, because of this part of the whole deal with the Federal lands involvement here? But I am just curious how New Mexico ended up with this. Because of the rich mineral resources they have?
Mr. CANNON. My understanding is minerals, oil, and gas are the basis for those funds. Those were, as I believe, areas which were more easily developed in earlier stages than Utah's. Utah's tend to be coal. There is difficulty of transportation with coal.
The oil and gas on our trust lands are deeper, and we have methane beds, other things that are of value, other minerals which are now, after we have developed much of our world, more economically viable. And, therefore, I think we are at a point where those trust lands could produce serious amounts of revenue for the State school trust fund.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. You also indicated earlier that there is approximately 630,000 acres of school trust lands. Has there been any appraisal done of this 630,000 acres? That is a lot.
Mr. CANNON. That is a lot. The 630,000 is the amount of acreage of school trust lands in the 5.7 million acre proposal. Much of that has not been appraised. Much of it has been used for grazing and for other purposes but producing minimal revenues generally.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Do you think that maybe we ought to look into that a little more? I mean, have these trust landsthe school trust landshave they been actually been located or
Mr. CANNON. Yes.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. [continuing] or have they been recognized?
Mr. CANNON. We should make it available to youa little map of Utah that has distinguishing
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Now, was this done by the BLM or the Department of the Interior, or what Federal agency was involved in that?
Mr. CANNON. They were designated at statehood and were designated by a description, and subsequently most of them have actually been surveyed so we know where they are. But when you lay out a grid of a survey of Utah, you can see all of them. You can tell where they are. Some of them have been consolidated. It has been a long time, but some of them have been consolidated out of the national forests, for instance, into larger blocks of land.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Have there been any major changes made of these school trust lands since statehoodI mean, transfers, purchases, anything to affect the value of these 630,000 acres when they were first recognized?
Mr. CANNON. They have actually been managed by the State agency, the School and Institutional Trust Land Administration. The major changes that has happened with those lands has happenedthis probably goes back to the time that the national forests were designated, when blocks of those trust lands were exchanged out.
So we know the lands. They are identified. They are managed. They are leased out for various activities, mostly grazing. But there are clearly some mineral development. For instance, Conoco is doing its current drilling within the monument on a school trust land section.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Now, I assume that the State of Utah does have a trust fund per se for school systems similar to New Mexico. What is the current value now of your school trust fund, if there is any?
Mr. CANNON. The current value of that trust is about $100 million, and I have for you a map that has the State mostly in yellow with some other distinguishing colors. And the solid colored kind of dots indicate the State trust lands.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. If you know, the Department of the Interior cannot even account for some $2 billion that are supposedly held in trust for the American Indians. How do you suppose they are going to be able to account for what you are suggesting here?
Mr. CANNON. Oh, the $100 million is held by the State, of course, and we have great confidence in our administrators of that fund. Is your question how are they going to account for the acres of land we are talking about in a trade?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Yes.
Mr. CANNON. I will tell you that they may misplace funds for Indian Trusts, but we have been through hell just trying to get a single section traded out of an expansion area we proposed for Arches National Park. It has taken us 6 months of the most incredible quibbling you can imagine. When you are quibbling about trades, you are talking about particulars, and in particulars they are persistent.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I would think that this is such a major issue in and of itself, just the total examination of Utah'sthe school trust lands, just to examine it closely and how BLM and other Federal agenciesand I am sure my good friend, the Chairman, is very much aware of this issue, but I think it needs to be brought out certainly for the members of the subcommittee to understand it a little better because I think your points are well takenthe fact that other states do benefit quite well from it, except the State of Utah.
And I am curious as to why the BLM or whatever agency responsible has not been responsive to the needs, not only of the school children in Utah, but to see that there is some balance in terms of how it deals with the issues affecting the State of New Mexico. I mean, they are benefiting from it quite generously, and I am just curious why Utah does not get a similar type of package, if you might explain it in those terms.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you. I think that is truly worth an investigation. If I might just add one example that will give some poignancy to the issue, Arches National Park was made a monument in the 1950's. It incorporates certain trust lands. We have been trying to trade those lands out since the 1950's. In 1993 in the 103d Congress, we actually passed a law requiring the trade of those lands and since they have made no progress. So it is a difficult issue and one that is well worth considering.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. I appreciate the gentleman's commentspoint out that New Mexico was a little smarter than we were in the 50's and 60's. They made the trades before all these laws came along putting us in a position where we are not able to do it.
And they really make some money on their trust lands, where we get almost minuscule. But we do have an expert that is going to be part of our panel. Mr. John Harja is the expert on school trust lands and can refer to it. The gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Gilchrest.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just ask one maybe oversimplistic question. In the process of developing this legislation, is it possibleI mean, you have identified the specific areas that you wanted designated wilderness, I would guess, in your bill.
Mr. Hinchey, I suppose, has designated his acreage and both are based on what I would assume is reasonable science, what fits the criteria and so on. Can we then sit down and look at the trust land and up here decide which will be traded out and create a timeframe for that? Is that possible?
Mr. CANNON. I think that is possible, but I don't think it would even be appropriate for this Committee to do it unilaterally because even those of us like the Chairman who spent a large portion of his life traveling this area, flying over it and landing over it, knows the particulars of the ground well enough to do that unilaterally. I think we need to draw the BLM into the process.
Mr. GILCHREST. Well, I guess if we drew them into this process with this legislation, we wouldn't have enough time to pass the legislation if that was a part of it.
Mr. CANNON. That is where it comes down to the real rub of the problem. But if we give them clarity on what to do, which is what I have tried to do in my legislationand I am not wedded to this particular processwe just think that the BLM has to be given an incentive to act instead of its inherent incentive to defer.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so, yes, these are issues that they know well, and, in fact, the other participantswilderness alliances have said these are important issues. They have done a great deal of inventorying of the land in Utah. If the various parties that were involved or knowledgeable decided to come forward and participate in the process that would protect Utah's schools, we could probably resolve this issue fairly quickly.
Mr. GILCHREST. What are the incentives in this bill that you have provided for that effort?
Mr. CANNON. In the first place, the wilderness designation would not take effect until after the trades were made. Second, it has cost a lot of money to a relatively small fund to go through the appraisal and even litigation process over these issues. We think that that bill ought to be borne by the Federal Government.
And then the third issue, which is probably the most controversial and the one we are not tied to particularly, which is essentially that the Utah trust lands would make a selection, and then BLM would have to respond but narrowly as to the valuation. ''OK. You are trading. You are proposing 20 sections here for 20 sections there, but these 20 sections are richer in minerals and, therefore, more valuable.'' In that circumstance, what I hope we create is a dynamic whereby we actually move forward and get some reasonable trades fairly quickly.
Mr. GILCHREST. Given what needs to be done in your experience in this issueMr. Cook can respond to this as welldo you have some idea if this process isyou provide the incentive. I would also imagine maybe the Utah Delegation can provide the arena under which this can be debated and discussed with BLM, with other groups that have an interest in this area. What would be your guess as to a reasonable timeframe to accomplish this task?
Mr. CANNON. I believe that that could be accomplished in rather a short timeframe if the various parties would come to the table. And, frankly, we are anxious to work with the various groups. We have talked to them about this. All of them have at least given lip service to the importance of trust lands.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If the various groups out there that are concerned about wilderness would come forward with their understandingand, remember, nobody has the resources the BLM has, but we have a sense among uswe could probably sit down with BLM officials fairly quickly and come up with some trades that would make everyone happy I think, unless the objective is to not have trades.
Because if you are taking a 5.7 million acre wilderness area and you add to that the 630,000 acres, you are at 6.3 million acres of virtual wilderness even though you have locked up those rights. And if the goal is 6.3 million acres, we will never have a resolution. But if the goal is to protect Utah school children, it could be done fairly quickly.
Mr. COOK. Mr. Gilchrest, if I could just comment, I don't believe it would be possible to effectuate trades of the school trust lands or the exchanges prior to passing a wilderness bill. But I think it is very possible to set a process or a mechanism into place in the wilderness bill to begin that process on some kind of a reasonable basis that includes the Utah State Trust Lands Administration.
I think the concern in the State of Utah is that, number 1, we get exchanges on this because for one thing they were promised in terms ofat least in the context of the creation of the national monument last year.
But, second, that it not be a unilateral decision of the Bureau of Land Management or the Interior Department, that Utah trust lands administrators that have been effective in being able to bring in revenue, although it is very limited in the State of Utah, from a real patchwork quilt situation and a trust law situation that is working less effectively in Utah than almost any other State of the Union, if there could be some assurance in the bill that the Utah State Trust Lands Administration can be included along with the Department of Interior in an exchange process.
Then I don't think it is at all necessary and I don't think it would be wise to expect that all those rather complicated valuations and exchanges take place before there is a settlement or a resolution on the wilderness question.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much. Maybe some of that can be put into the report languagethat direction. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Gilchrest. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Duncan.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Chairman, I don't have any questions, but I would say this. I have the privilege of representing about half of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and this is the most heavily visited national park in the country with about four times the number of visitors of any other park.
And most people who come there are awed by the size and the grandeur of the Smokies. Yet, it is less than a third the size of this 1.8 million acres. It is less than 600,000 acres. And somehow I am amazed that in this debate that we have gotten to the point where we think 1.8 million acres is not much land. It is a staggering amount of land. And to think of 5.7 million acresI mean, that is almost incomprehensible. It is unbelievable.
And I am just not sure that a lot of people realize how much or how huge 1.8 million acres is. It is really amazing what we are talking about when you think that that is three times the size of the most heavily visited national park in this country. And I just thought I would make that observation for the record. I don't have any questions.
Mr. HANSEN. I appreciate the gentleman's comments. The gentlelady from Idaho, Mrs. Chenoweth.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no comments or questions.
Mr. HANSEN. We thank our colleagues for their comments and invite them to join us on the dais. I see we have been joined by our friend from New York, Mr. Hinchey, who is the sponsor of one of the bills under consideration. So I think it would be proper, Mr. Hinchey, if we turned the time to you for your opening statement or whatever comments you would like to make.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. MAURICE HINCHEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. HINCHEY. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I very much appreciate that consideration, and please let me extend to you and to others my apologies for not being here earlier. You have indicated, Mr. Chairman, on several occasions that it has been your intention for some time to hold hearings on the legislation affecting Utah wilderness.
As the sponsor of one of the two bills before us today, I certainly understand and very much appreciate that. You and I have worked together on this legislation now from different perspectives, of course, but in a very cooperative and friendly way, and I am very obliged to you for your attitude and the way that you have conducted your attention to this particular initiative.
So, nevertheless, there continues to be large differences between the two particular bills that are before the subcommittee. And I know that we are both well aware of the barriers to settling this matter anytime in the near future.
Since we debated the issue at length in the last Congress, my remarks about my own bill will be very brief. I have always been a strong supporter of protecting wilderness and was, in fact, the leading advocate for protecting State wilderness lands in New York in my former role as a member of the New York State Legislature.
I believe that one of the things that all of us who are here today agree on is that we are not making any new wilderness areas, and that the amount of wilderness remaining in the United States has declined sharply in the last century and will continue to decline if we do not protect what we have. To paraphrase former President George Bush, he said, ''My goal is no net loss of wilderness.''
The lands that would be designated as wilderness in my bill have been surveyed thoroughly by the people of Utah who share the goal that is expressed in that legislation. Most of last year's debate focused on whether the lands included in my bill were truly wild or not.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have always said that I am willing to alter the bill, if it is actively considered, on the basis of new information that shows convincingly that some of the lands in my bill do not qualify as wilderness. Or if lands that are not in the bill do qualify, we are perfectly willing to modify the bill based upon that new, solid information.
Probably the best way to resolve this issue that is available to us would be to allow the Department of the Interior to proceed with the reinventory that you, Mr. Chairman, first suggested I believe it was last year.
I was pleased to see that Mr. Cannon's bill made several changes from the bill we considered in this subcommittee last year. I was especially encouraged by the deletion of language that would have allowed various kinds of development in designated wilderness areas. Perhaps that can be the first step toward eventual agreement on the Utah wilderness question. Even if we have a very long way still to go, that first step would be very good news indeed.
I believe it is particularly important today for me to address the issue of school trust lands, since my position on this has apparently been misunderstood several times this year. I have seen some individuals quoted as saying that my bill does not provide for any exchange of the school trust lands that would be enclosed under the legislation that I have introduced. That, of course, is simply not true.
My bill does provide for such an exchange under the terms of the Federal Land Policy Management Act, as is appropriate. What it does not do is prejudice any such exchange in advance. It says that any such exchange should take place on the same terms and under the same rules as the many exchanges that have taken place in other States since the Federal Land Policy Management Act was enacted.
I can well understand the interest of my colleagues in expediting land exchanges. However, I have been disturbed by the suggestions that some have made that my bill somehow stands in the way of land exchanges. There is simply no truth to that at all.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the first bills our subcommittee considered when I first came to Congress several years ago was a bill authorizing land exchanges in Utah, and, of course, I supported that bill. I understand that the Department of the Interior and the State of Utah have reached agreement on about half of those exchanges.
But if there are people who are concerned about delays and already authorized exchanges or the possibility of delays in future exchanges, I think that what we ought to do is to expedite the inventory and proceed with the exchange of information so that those exchanges can take place more rapidly.
Just 2 months ago, Secretary Babbitt, while testifying on the establishment of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, commented that his State exchanged 2 million acres with the Federal Government during his tenure as Governor.
It is my understanding that all of those exchanges took place under the rules established under the Federal Land Policy Management Act and did not require legislation establishing new rules or a new process. The same thing has happened in a number of other States.
It is my understanding that most of the trust lands that would be enclosed and exchanged under Mr. Cannon's bill and under my bill are not currently producing revenue for the Utah schools, and that large portions of them would be unlikely to produce revenue anytime in the near future.
According to testimony we have heard in the past, all the trust landsthat is, every single trust land throughout the State of Utah, not just those affected by either of these two billsproduce less than 1 percent of Utah's total school revenues. So I think it is unfair to suggest that any wilderness legislation is depriving Utah's school children of the education they deserve.
As I said, however, I share the concerns of all those people who want to see land exchanges expedited, but those exchanges won't take place until the larger question of wilderness designation is settled. That, in turn, won't happen until we move closer to an agreement of what lands qualify for wilderness designation. So I would strongly urge anyone who wants to see the lands in question exchanged, let the reinventory go forward, as you have suggested, Mr. Chairman, and as we all support.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, again, I want to express to you my deep respect and even admiration, Mr. Chairman, about the way that you have conducted these proceedings up to this point. And I look forward to the opportunity to continue to work with you to try to bring about some equitable, just, and fair resolution to this problem.
[Prepared statement of Mr. Hinchey follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. MAURICE D. HINCHEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Chairman, you have indicated on several occasions that it is your intention to hold hearings on Utah Wilderness legislation in this Congress, and go no further than that. As the sponsor of one of the two bills before us today, I certainly understand and appreciate that. There continue to be large differences between the two bills, and I know we are both well aware of the barriers to settling this matter in the near future.
Since we debated the issue at length in the last Congress, my remarks about my own bill will be brief. I have always been a strong supporter of protecting wilderness, and was the leading advocate for protecting state lands as permanent wilderness during my years in the New York State Assembly. I believe that one of the things that all of us who are here today agree on is that we are not making new wilderness, and that the amount of wilderness remaining in the United States has declined sharply in the last century, and will continue to decline if we do not protect what we have. To paraphrase former President Bush, my goal is ''no net loss of wilderness.''
The lands that would be designated as wilderness in my bill have been surveyed thoroughly by citizens of Utah who share that goal. Much of last year's debate focused on whether the lands included in my bill were truly wild or not. I have always said I'm wiling to alter the billif it is actively consideredon the basis of new information that shows convincingly that some of the lands in my bill do not qualify as wilderness, or if lands that are not in my bill do qualify. Probably the best way to resolve this issue that is available to us today would be to allow the Department of Interior to proceed with the reinventory that you first suggested last year, Mr. Chairman.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I was pleased to see that Mr. Cannon's bill made several changes from the bill we considered in this Subcommittee last year. I was especially encouraged by the deletion of language that would have allowed various kinds of development in designated wilderness areas. Perhaps that can be the first step toward eventual agreement on the Utah wilderness question. Even if we have a very long way still to go, that first step would be good news.
I believe it is particularly important today for me to address the issue of school trust lands, since my position on this has been misrepresented several times this year. I have seen some individuals quoted as saying that my bill does not provide for any exchange of the school trust lands that would be enclosed under my bill. That is not true. My bill does provide for such an exchange under the terms of FLIPMA (Federal Land Policy Management Act). What it does not do is prejudice any such exchange in advance. It says that any such exchange should take place on the same terms and under the same rules as the many exchanges that have taken place in other states since FLIPMA was enacted.
I can well understand the interest of my colleagues from Utah and the people of Utah in expediting land exchanges. However, I have been disturbed by the suggestions some have made that my bill somehow stands in the way of land exchanges. There is no truth to that. One of the first bills our Subcommittee considered when I came to Congress in 1993 was a bill authorizing land exchanges in Utah, and I supported it. I understand that the Department of Interior and the State of Utah have reached agreement on about half of those exchanges.
But if Utahns are concerned about delays in already authorized exchanges, or the possibility of delays in future exchanges, it is not up to me or supporters of my bill to respond to that issue. I am sorry that this hearing was announced and organized so rapidly that the Department of Interior was unable to appear. The Departmentand only the Departmentcan comment on why land exchanges have not proceeded more rapidly in Utah.
Just 2 months ago, Secretary Babbitt (while testifying on the establishment of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) commented that his state exchanged 2 million acres with the Federal Government during his tenure as Governor. It is my understanding that all of those exchanges took place under the rules established in FLPMA, and did not require legislation establishing new rules or a new process. The same thing has happened in other states.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is my understanding that most of the trust lands that would be enclosed and exchanged under Mr. Cannon's bill and under my bill are not currently producing revenue for the Utah schools, and that large portions of them would be unlikely to produce revenue in the future. According to testimony we have heard in the past, all the trust lands throughout the statenot just those affected by either of these billsproduce less than 1 percent of Utah's total school revenues. So I think it is very unfair to suggest that any wilderness legislation is depriving Utah's school children of the education they deserve.
As I said, however, I share the concerns of Utahns who want to see land exchanges expedited. But those exchanges won't take place until the larger question of wilderness designation is settled. That in turn won't happen until we move closer to an agreement on what lands qualify for wilderness designation. So I would strongly urge anyone who wants to see the lands in question exchanged to let the reinventory go forward.
Mr. HANSEN. I appreciate the gentleman's comments. Let me point out to the members who have arrived after we started, we are looking at H.R. 1952 by Mr. Cannon and H.R. 1500 by Mr. Hinchey. And I have recognized everyone but the gentlelady from Virgin Islands. I appreciate you being here.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no questions or opening comments.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you; I appreciate your statements. To my good friend from New York, let me not take issue with you on anything but just point out that I think it was Mr. Babbitt who wanted to do the reinventory. And I won't go through the litany of how that occurred unless you want me to, but a very interesting goal.
And as I said in my opening remarks, the Federal District Court in the State of Utah said he didn't have the right to do that. I don't know the status of the appeal or what is going on, but we will see what comes out of that interesting issue.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have two panels we want to have before us at this particular time. The first panel is composed of, if I can put my hand on it, three county commissioners from the State of Utah, Mr. Randy Johnson, County Commissioner from Emery County, Utah; Louise Liston, County Commissioner of Garfield County; and Joe Judd, County Commissioner of Kane County.
They will be joined by John A. Harja, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. If we could ask those folks to come up, I would appreciate it.
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, while they are coming up, can I ask Mr. Hinchey a very quick question?
Mr. HANSEN. I will recognize the gentleman from Maryland.
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Cannonand I don't want to speak for Mr. Cannonsaid he wasn't wedded to the number of acres designated as wilderness1 million, 2 million, even 5 million. But prior to designation of wilderness, he had three issuesthree key provisionsI am not sure if you are familiar with those three key provisionsdealing with the exchange of school trust lands.
And you don't have to answer it now, but I think it would be interesting to see what you consider based on your understanding of your bill if you would consider Mr. Cannon's three key provisions prior to designating 5.7 million acres, if they could be included, let us say, in your legislation?
The first one is before any land can be transferred, the school trust lands must first be exchanged; number 2, Utah School Trust Lands Administration would pick the unappropriated lands for trades rather than the Department of Interior; and, third, authorization authority to reimburse the School Trust Land Administration for their cost in conducting an exchange. If you are not familiar with them now, I would just be interested down the road what you think of those criteria prior to any designated wilderness.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HINCHEY. If the gentleman would yield?
Mr. HANSEN. Does the gentleman yield?
Mr. GILCHREST. Yes.
Mr. HINCHEY. Let me say, Mr. Gilchrest, that I very much appreciate the gentleman from Maryland's interest in this issue and his raising those particular points. I am, of course, willing to consider any suggestion that is made by any member of this subcommittee on this particular issue, particularly suggestions, of course, made by either Mr. Cannon or by our Chairman.
I am not in a position at this moment to give you an answer as to the specifics of each of those questions, but let me just say that I do not regard the issue of the school trust lands as an insoluble issue at all. First of all, it constitutes only a fractional part of this particular question.
As I indicated in my opening remarks, all of the school trust lands right now at this particular moment provide less than 1 percent of all the revenue that is provided from the State to the school districts in Utah and, therefore, to the education of the children of Utah.
So I do not regard this as a major aspect of this particular problem. However, to the extent that it is a significant issue, and it is an issue that has to be addressed, I am open to any suggestions and will consult and work with anyone to try to reach a reasonable solution.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from American Samoa has asked the gentleman from Maryland to yield.
Mr. GILCHREST. Yes.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I just want to share with the gentleman the fact that in 1993 we did pass specifically a Federal law called the Utah School and Lands Improvement Act addressing this very issue. And I want to share with the gentleman the information.
Basically, the information that I am given is that 3.6 million acres of total landschool trust lands1.5 million acres is State owned school trust lands. And I think what is at issue here is the fact that there are 630,000 acres that are within currently the Federal land. This is what we areI think this is the concern that Congressman Cannon has indicated earlier.
And I also want to share with the gentleman the fact that in the Hinchey version of the bill, it does address school trust lands to the effect that he suggests that the FLPMA and the Wilderness Act be the administering agencies of this 630,000 acres that is at question. So I think from what I hear from my good friend from New York, we are open. We are willing to work what could be a solution to the problems that we are facing.
But I want to remind my good friend that 1.5 million acres of this is State owned alreadytrustsand maybe this is where the exchange or maybe the lack of exchange on the part of BLM as well as with the State of Utahmaybe this is what we need to focus on.
Mr. HANSEN. Let me comment that we have some real good experts on this issue that are going to speak to this in just a moment, and we are going to run out of time for the use of this room, which concerns me greatly because we have another panel after this panel. And so if the members could hold on to their questions, Mr. John Harja is considered the expert.
And, John, with that in mind, I have set you up, and we expect you to respond to all of these things you have heard up here on the dais when the mike comes to you. But we are not going to start with you. We are going to start with Randy Johnson, and these folks have been before this committee so many times I start calling them members.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But, anyway, they all know the rules, and from this point on, I am going to hold both the witnesses and the members to the 5-minute rule just in the interest of time. As you know, it is just like a traffic light in front of you; green, you go; yellow, you wind up; and red, don't run ittoo far, anyway. But if you have got something burning in your bosom you have just got to say on any panel that is here, I normally will listen to that. So, Mr. Johnson, let us start with you, and we appreciate all of our witnesses being here on both of our panels. Mr. Johnson, the time is yours for 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF RANDY JOHNSON, COUNTY COMMISSIONER, EMERY COUNTY, UTAH
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you, sir. So you are telling us to pay attention to this the way we pay attention to traffic lights in Utah. I understand that.
Mr. HANSEN. I want every witness to pull the mike up close to them. I always get in trouble when I ask witnesses to repeat. People think I am trying to cut them off and I am not so pull them up real close.
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you. On behalf of rural Utah's public lands counties, I want to thank you for holding this hearing today. The BLM issue in Utah has been in the works since BLM first began to inventory lands during the Carter Administration. The level of debate continues on a fevered pitch, and I believe it is long past time to act to bring the warring factions together.
I am particularly grateful to Congressman Cannon for jumping into the fray and taking a strong leadership role. Specifically, the Cannon bill's emphasis on resolving the State school trust land impasse prior to the wilderness bill is well worth considering, and we can never truly have resolution until both trust lands and the road issues are resolved.
In regards to wilderness, it is my belief that Utah's counties have acted from the beginning in good faith. Our Governor and congressional delegation asked us to conduct honest inventories of the land in each of our counties and to make recommendations following the parameters of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We responded by conducting careful inventories and recommending those lands which truly met the 1964 Act requirements of possessing outstanding solitude, of being untrammeled by man, where man is a visitor who does not remain, and shall be roadless.
Based on that criteria, just over 1 million acres of BLM land in Utah qualified. Even so, we recognize the political reality and have very reluctantly agreed to the congressional delegation's request to bring this figure to approximately 2 million acres.
Congressman Cannon's bill reflects that reality. Wilderness designations in areas which do not qualify under the 1964 Act is, in fact, a luxury which rural economies cannot afford and which is not in keeping with the intent of the 1964 bill.
In all candor, Mr. Chairman, it would be nice if Congress would follow the written definition of wilderness which Congress itself created. However, if the sentiment of the Congress in 1997 is to change that definition, then it should do so in order that this process may remain intellectually honest.
Is Congress moving into the business of creating wilderness? That is what we are doing with H.R. 1500. Those who tell us that once lost wilderness can never be regained are now telling us that if we close this road or that road, nature will eventually reclaim it. That is not what the Wilderness Act intended, and it is not right, nor is it necessary. Have we learned nothing in 30 years? Must we always begin our arguments as though it were 1970?
I ask you to settle this issue by passing legislation setting aside those lands which do actually qualify as wilderness and then remain vigilant to ensure that the remaining lands are protected through FLPMA and NEPA and other Federal laws intended to guard our public lands.
Environmental groups have arbitrarily chosen to ''tithe'' Utah; that is, to take approximately 10 percent of the land area of the State and offer it up as wilderness. These so-called great defenders of the 1964 Wilderness Act have chosen to completely ignore it and to rely upon some arbitrary tithed number of 5.7 million acres, better known as H.R. 1500 or Mr. Hinchey's bill.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To make matters worse, this Administration has chosen, with a wink and a nod, to instruct public land managers in the field to manage BLM lands in Utah at that 5.7 million acre level. Legally, BLM can only manage 3.2 million acres of BLM land in Utah, the amount the FLPMA process produced as an accurate figure for Wilderness Study Areas as wilderness.
The deck is stacked against advocates of multiple use because until Congress finally acts, these lands will continue to be managed as wilderness. Environmental groups, therefore, cannot lose and have absolutely no incentive to negotiate.
As the stalemate continues, lands can neither be protected as wilderness, nor managed and perhaps developed for their natural resource potential. Only to the extent that the development on public land occurs will royalties to the Federal Treasury be paid.
Let me say that another way. Lands that do not merit wilderness status but which contain leasable minerals can, and I believe should, be developed following the strict environmental laws of the land. When this happens, everyone winstaxpayers win.
Deserving lands can be protected and lands rich in God-given natural resources can be developed and then reclaimed in accordance with the environmental laws of the land. Isn't that how it should be, rather than our continuing in a never-ending stalemate?
I am out of time. I believe and in my opinion we have come the full cycle in this longstanding battle. The protectors have become the defectors. And in an effort to perpetuate themselves, the land, and the multitude of protections which exist for the benefit of that land are secondary to the war itself. Keeping the contention alive ensures their continued existence and the work of 30 years is ignored and a continued flood of misinformation and rhetoric.
We must dispel once and for all the idea upon which some of them have built their empires that it is wilderness or degradation, wilderness or bulldozers, wilderness or reckless strip mining. We want to and are anxious to protect this land but wish to do so under the laws that exist in a sensible manner. And we would hope that you will bring this to resolution so that we may do so. Thank you very much.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Prepared statement of Mr. Johnson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Commissioner Johnson. We will now turn to the Commissioner from Garfield County, who I would also like to point out to the panel is also an expert on school trust land. In fact, she sits on the School Trust Land Board, and so besides John Harja, you can ask Louise Liston anything about it, and she will give you the correct answer; at least that is how I found it working with her over the years. Having set you up now, Commissioner, we will turn the time to you.
STATEMENT OF LOUISE LISTON, COUNTY COMMISSIONER, GARFIELD COUNTY, UTAH
Ms. LISTON. Thank you, I guess. I appreciate your concern and also your support, Mr. Chairman. And I wish to express my gratitude to you for holding yet another hearing on this wilderness issue in your subcommittee today.
I would also feel remiss if I did not thank Congressman Cannon. He has proven to be a tireless worker on the monument issue and with the introduction of H.R. 1952. He now puts before the Congress of the United States legislation which the people of rural Utah can, with some reservations, live with.
Mr. Chairman, let me say this about BLM wilderness. We the people of southern Utah want the issue resolved, but we are not now, nor will we ever be, willing to agree to legislation that destroys our livelihoods and way of life simply because we are tired of the conflict.
All of the issuesBLM wilderness, the new national monument, RS 2477 roads, State school trust lands, actual development of coal, oil, gas, and other mineral reserves on public landsall of these issues must be taken into account and resolved equitably before we will consider the controversy settled.
We have always been willing to participate in the public process and have played by the rules. We regret that the President of the United States and his Secretary of the Department of Interior have not. To now consider adding millions of new acres of BLM wilderness in our counties without taking all of these issues into account would be unconscionable for us.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Without beating around the bush, we hear that there is talk of using this 2.1 million acre wilderness bill as a starting point and split the difference with advocates of H.R. 1500 at around 3.2 million acres. We hear that because some are tired of dealing with the issue, a 3.2 million acre bill sounds appealing because it would placate environmental groups. The fact is, Mr. Chairman, Secretary Babbit is, as Commissioner Johnson has said, illegally managing 5.7 million acres of BLM lands in Utah now as de facto wilderness.
It may be politically expedient to cut a deal at 3.2 million acres, but on the land where we live, that amount of wilderness, on top of the restrictions imposed by the creation of a 1.7 million acre national monument, on top of the restrictions imposed on us by four adversarial lawsuits over RS 2477 rights-of-way, will effectively place us into a permanent position of servitude.
Rural Utahans are aware that only about 1 million acres of land in the State qualify for wilderness under the definition of the 1964 Act. We have agreed to double that amount for political reasons. If Congress chooses to raise the acreage total to 3.2 million acres or higher and ignores the 1964 Wilderness Act criteria entirely, then it is time to amend the Wilderness Act to conform to reality.
If not, then Congress should adhere to the laws it passes and be honest with the American people. Please don't ask us to call something wilderness that does not fit wilderness criteria. If members of this Committee are going to change the rules, then I recommend that Congress should first consider changing the 1964 law.
Look at reality one more time. Sixty-seven percent of Utah is federally owned. The lands being managed as Wilderness Study Areas now constitute over 20 percent of the Federal lands in the State. All told, 40 percent of the Federal lands in Utah, not including Indian reservations and military restricted areas, are effectively off limits to multiple uses.
An additional 13 percent of the lands in Utah are State school trust lands. Please understand these school trust lands are restricted to whatever use is deemed appropriate by the surrounding Federal land manager. That is why we only have less than 1 percent of the uniform school fund is generated by our school trust lands. We are locked into a sea of Federal lands, and we are islands in that sea.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While I am hopeful enactment of Congressman Cannon's bill means educational interests in Utah may finally receive the attention they deserve and actual exchanges take place, let me point out something many Members of Congress and many environmental groups absolutely do not want to hear.
That is, in order for any Federal-State land exchange to mean anything, school trust lands have to be explored and developed. Some courageous company or companies may invest capital in a coal-mining project or an oil-drilling operation and may actually develop the resource in order for any money to go to the school children of Utah. Let me say that another way. It is the royalties paid as a result of natural resource extraction which will fill the coffers of the State school trust.
As of today, less than 1 percent of the State school budget is derived from such development. Utah spends a higher percentage of its State budget, 80 percent, on education, higher than any other State. At the same time, Utah is dead last, 50th in per capita spending on education, in large part because it cannot tax its people any more without driving individuals and industry out of the State. If school trust lands are to contribute in a meaningful way, development must occur.
For those environmentalists who are now going ballistic, please know that all of the applicable environmental laws governing development on public landsall of them still apply. So let me conclude by saying Garfield County supports Congressman Cannon's bill as the one which comes closest to portraying things the way they actually are on the land. It contains more wilderness than the 1964 Act definition allows, but we believe we can survive under the terms.
If I have been blunt in my testimony then, Mr. Chairman, I plead guilty. This is the way things really are. You know it and I know it. What we seem to be dealing with in the Utah wilderness debate is an endless parade of dancing around the truth, and I, for one, am tired of it. I stand ready to help you pass this legislation in any way that I can. Thank you.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Prepared statement of Ms. Liston may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Commissioner. I hope the members of the Committee when you look at these three commissioners down there realize that they represent the majority of land in both those bills right there. And so I am talking about somebody on the ground. We are honored to have Commissioner Joe Judd from Kane County with us. Joe, we will turn the time to you, sir.
STATEMENT OF JOE JUDD, COUNTY COMMISSIONER, KANE COUNTY, UTAH
Mr. JUDD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On behalf of the people of Kane County, I would like to express my gratitude for your holding these hearings. It seems like old home week, we have been here so many times.
I would like also to add my thanks to the Committee and to Congressman Cannon for what he said this morning in trying to resolve the issues of both Kane and Garfield Counties and making those things his first order of business in the Congress. Congressman Cannon is off to a good start with both his actions and a great blessing that we receive on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and hopefully with these BLM issues also.
Mr. Chairman, we are down where the rubber meets the road regarding this wilderness issue. We would like to have them resolved. We would also like to have this new monument issue resolved, as well as the RS 2477 issues, as well as State school trust lands, actual development of coal and gas and other mineral reserves on public lands. All of these issues must be taken into account and resolved equitably before we can consider the controversy settled.
We have always been willing to participate in a public process and have enjoyed, if not been anxious, to play by the rules. To now consider adding more and millions of acres to the BLM wilderness to our county without taking any of these things into consideration is really unconscionable to us.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The people of southern Utah are aware that about a million acres of the land still qualify as wilderness in the definition of the 1964 Act. We have agreed to double that to try to make this a political compromise, to make it work in our counties. We have entered into a partnership with the BLM trying to make the new monument work in our counties. Please don't ask us to do something that is entirely unreasonable.
Kane County cannot live with a political solution that ignores the 1964 Wilderness Act criteria and simply should try and get the bill passed. We have also made an opportunity known to those who are willing to listen that there are certain special interest groups that have made a lot of money trying to keep this controversy alive.
In Kane County, the combined impacts of the new national monument, with the additional BLM wilderness of about 2.1 million acres, and the problems that RS 2477 puts before us nearly puts us out of business. It is already clear the Federal Government wants to relegate southern Utah's economy to a seasonal economy based on tourism. And, again, if pumping gas and selling hamburgers and making beds could get it done, we would have had it done a long time ago. It just doesn't work.
Our ability to provide for ourselves has been taken regardless of what happens with this bill. We are the ones who must provide the services to all of the visitors who will come and are already coming to the national monument. Adding the BLM wilderness within the monument is legislative overkill, and it makes it doubly tough for us to provide the services we are mandated by law to provide.
Again, let me consider the realities before you stick it to us one more time. Our people have been beaten over the head by the Federal Government so many times I marvel at their ability to be able to take it and get up again. We no longer control our own destiny so at least help us minimize the future pain and provide us with the means to make every harsh socioeconomic climate in our communities from where I come.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, let me add my support to Congressman Cannon's bill from Kane County and place his resolving the issues of the school trust lands. We in Kane County have already lost and are willing to stand many more losses if these resolutions will come to fruition.
The opportunity for the school trust lands to gain monetary value, along with the Counties of Kane and Garfield, were taken from us with the Andalex Smokey Hollow Mine project. That would have been worth some $600 million to the school trust land over the life span of the mine.
That illustrates the project point, however, for any future exchange. The point is that it is not the exchange of the lands between the State and the Federal Government alone which provides revenues for the school children of Utah. It is the development and actual mining, drilling, or some other extractive activity by royalty-paying companies which brings money into the State school trust.
Pro education environmentalists can't have it both ways. Either we develop the lands and put the money into the hands of the school children and their teachers, or we remain purists and leave the school trust lands undeveloped.
This bill addresses the issue of education, while Congressman Hinchey's bill does not. Congressman Hinchey and his supporters should consider the realities I have just mentioned, unless they really don't care about the Utah school kids and the teachers' salaries.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to be able to testify and especially to be on a panel with the colleagues such as Commissioner Johnson and Commissioner Liston and along with John Harja. I appreciate this very much. Thank you.
[Prepared statement of Mr. Judd may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. DUNCAN. [presiding] Thank you very much, Commissioner Judd, for being with us again. It is an honor to have you, and it is also a privilege to have with us the next witness, Mr. John A. Harja, who is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. Mr. Harja.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF JOHN A. HARJA, VICE CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF TRUSTEES, UTAH SCHOOL AND INSTITUTIONAL TRUST LANDS ADMINISTRATION
Mr. HARJA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is amazing to me to sit here today as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and listen to all the fine Congresspeople mention school trust lands. I came here in 1992 to push a bill that was enacted, thank you, and nobody knew what they were. So it is fun to sit here and be able to talk school trust lands.
I am just going to toss my comments out and try to respond to some of the things that have been said. The education budget in the State of Utah in 1996 was $1.5 billion. Less than 1 percent of that is still a lot of money.
The population of Utah is just over 2 million people. The population under 18 is 34.6 percent, which is first in the Nation. We have a lot of kids. Everybody knows that in Utah. The average teacher's salary was approximately $31,000, 43rd in the Nation. The State and local education spending per $1,000 of personal income was $90, 3rd in the Nation.
That is our situation. The taxes that are collected on education are very high. There are a lot of kids. The education system is busy. School trust lands are a portion of that. They are a small portion now, but they are a portion.
The State of New Mexico was mentioned, how so much money could be in that fund. It is a matter of history. It is a matter of luck. It is a matter of good work. The Spanish land grants in New Mexico caused lands to be movedthe school trust landsimmediately on statehood. They didn't have to wait till 1997. They were just moved.
And then it turns out oil and gas was discovered at shallow depths immediately, and a lot of money was funneled into that fund right away. And they have a large one, and it generates around 25 percent of their education budget.
Utah didn't have that luck. Our lands are still scattered. And, as the Congressman mentioned, a lot of our resources are deeper, harder to get to, more remote, and all the things that are mentioned.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have not had an exchange in Utah in 30 years, nor do we have any under agreement today. The last ones that occurred were basically Canyonlands National Park that occurred in the 1960's. And everybody just got together and said we need to move these, these lands are approximate equivalent value, and they moved them. It was done.
Mr. Babbitt mentioned, when I was here last on the monument, that a whole bunch of appraisals have been done and there are agreement on many of them. I am going to tell you that is false. At this point in time, we have maybe 12 tracts out of 550 where the values on both sides appear to be the same.
That is, both sides look at the value and say we can live with that. That is as far as we have gotten. It isn't to say we are not going to get any further. We are going to get this thing done. We are committed to it. It is a long, expensive process.
Mr. Babbitt mentioned 2 million acres in Arizona. I don't want to dispute the Secretary. Our information indicates it is more like a million acres. And, frankly, if you give us the kind of flexibility for the BLM that they had in Arizona, we will get this done tomorrow. That is what it takes. In Utah, the flexibility to look at appraisals in the sense of the uniform nationwide standards is not there.
In fact, if I can really tell you some things here, it is our view the Federal Government is purposefully exerting influence on appraisers to come in at low values. I was at a conference yesterday. Appraisers were getting together to talk about appraisals in terms of remote areas, wilderness, national parks.
And a gentleman from the United States Forest Service sat down on the panel and said, ''These are the rules. If you don't play it by our rules, which are restrictive rules and which do not allow for appraisals that look at conservation as the highest and best use, you will not do business with us.'' This was an overt threat to these folks and their economic stability. There was no question about it.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why should that matter? The industry is moving that way. The markets are moving that way. In this country, we believe in capitalism. The markets are moving towardif there are buyers and sellers, that represents the markets. The Federal Government agencies do not like this. They are attempting to stop it. It makes sense. It is going to cost them money perhaps. But if they are going to influence the market like that, they are not going to find a lot of people playing.
So, in our view, I have a fiduciary duty as a member of the Board. I have to look for a fair sense of equal value. I don't find that I get it from the current appraisal techniques. It is hard fought, and we will fight it. We are probably going to have to go to the judiciary to reach conclusion but we will do that because we want to get this done.
Therefore, I appreciate Mr. Cannon putting in this bill some other ideas that basically come from Project Bold and from the whole sense of if it was taken before, you get something else instead. We would just say we appreciate the idea that wilderness will not be declared until those exchanges are done. You could add that to any number of the other issues. I don't care.
But in terms of us, if you take it, we want something else. We are not going to say that we have low potential minerals, or we are going to take a producing oil field. We want equal value or approximately equal value. But give us something else and give us a fair process to get there. Mr. Babbitt apparently used swapping low potential lands for low potential landsmineral potential. We will live with that. That is fine.
And the other thing we need have is keep the Feds at the table, and that is what FLPMA does not do. The Feds feel free anytime that they think they are not getting their way, they will walk away from the table, and all the work that goes into that exchange is tossed down the tubes. You need to keep them at the table. So with that, Mr. Chairman, my time is up, and I hope I am the expert you expected. But, if not, I can answer questions.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Prepared statement of Mr. Harja may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. [presiding] Well, thank you very much; appreciate your comments. We will recognize the members of the Committee and our two colleagues from Utah for 5 minutes each. We will start with the gentleman from American Samoa.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you and I do appreciate the testimonies borne by the commissioners from these several counties representing the State of Utah. You probably heard earlier our dialog with Congressman Cannon and Congressman Cook, and I think I have had the privilege of also hearing your testimonies from previous hearings.
My understanding is that there is currently a total of 3.6 million acres in the whole State of Utah that are school trust lands. How much acreage of that do you feel should be exchanged if there ismy understanding is that 1.5 million is State owned?
Is the problem here in the fact that some of these school trust lands really have no value, or is it because it is not situated in such a way that it could get the best monetary value for it if an exchange does take place with these Federal agencies?
Mr. HARJA. Mr. Congressman, there are 3.7 million acres of school trust lands and an additional 1 million acres of mineral-only lands in the State of Utah. They are school trust lands. They are scattered. If you look at your map, they are scattered like buckshot over the State.
There is no question that we are dependent upon the resource activities for the vast majority of our money. We make about $18 million a year right now. That is going up dramatically. Most of that is minerals. If the surrounding Federal lands are not available, there is not a lot we can do about it.
If you look at the revenues in the Wilderness Study Areas over the 15 years that they have been Wilderness Study Areas, they have declinedthe revenues to the school trust because industry is not willing and can't to get the surrounding Federal lands. So it is a matter, as I said, like in New Mexico, a little bit of luck and a little bit of where you are.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A lot of our lands that have been blocked up are near cities, the city of St. George. And we are doing good things with those lands now, and a lot of our money is starting to come from those lands. We would love to move, but we need to move into those kind of areas. So it isn't that they have low value necessarily. It is, as the commissioners pointed out, we need the opportunity to get to development to find out what is really there.
And a lot of these studies that go on about it is not economic or not are nice, but as any mining engineer can tell you, you don't know what is there until you gut it out of the ground. And that is where the money comes from, and that is where the trust needs to head toward.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. And one of the problems, as I recall from Commissioner Liston, your county is very much rural; rural in the sense that you are scattered out all over the State, and you are talking about farmlands, ranchers populationwise in your county is very limited, I suppose, compared to West Jordan or Granite County, if there is such a countyis there a Granite County? School districtGranite.
So populationwise, you are very, you know, hard-ridden in that sense that because of the rural area, you don't have much population as a tax base. And so because of that, it makes it very difficult even to support a school system that you have in your county.
Ms. LISTON. That is very true. We have less than 2 percent of the land base that is actually taxable. Ninety-eight percent is State and federally owned. And so it is virtually impossible, and yet we handle the services for close to 3 million visitors a year with a population of 4,000 people.
And if you don't think that handling those visitors detracts from the law enforcement and the fire protection and so on in our local communities, guess again, because we suffer when tourism starts. Because when those visitors come, then it takes away from our local services. And we do suffer in many ways.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One thing I wanted to address with your other question was ingress and egress. I mean, when you develop, you have to have a way to get in and a way to get out. And when you try to do that over Federal lands nowadays, you are talking about an impossibility in many instances of doing that, especially if you are talking about wilderness areas. And although the State does have case law that says that they can have access to their school trust lands, it is still a major battle to get that done.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My time is up.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentlelady from Idaho.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to direct my question to Mr. Johnson. You quoted the 1964 Wilderness Act, that the wilderness must possess outstanding solitude, of being untrammelled by man, where man is a visitor who does not remain. Within that frame of reference, you stated that only 1 million acres of BLM land qualifies. Would you mind expanding on that for the record?
Mr. JOHNSON. Yes, I would be happy to do that. The commissioners, in their mandate from the delegation members and the Governor, went out and reexamined those lands that had been set aside, those Wilderness Study Areas, as well as lands in H.R. 1500, which had the potential to qualify as wilderness under what would become the Utah Wilderness bill of a year ago, as you recall.
And we examined those lands for conflicts and for man's imprints, and the 1 million acre recommendation that we gave back to the delegation was based on those lands that we could identify that had none of those conflicts, that were specifically spelled out in the 1964 Wilderness Act.
In other words, there were no roads or ways. We didn't get into the argument is that a way or a road. We simply identified an imprint of man, and we excluded that area. And we pulled those acreages back to those areas which were genuinely pristine in every way, and that is where that 1 million acre recommendation from the counties came from.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The lands that would be within this 2 million acre package are certainly beautiful and deserve protection, and many of the lands outside of that deserve protection. But what we are saying is that there are so many levels of Federal law that protect those lands now that wilderness is not necessarily the appropriate application in all of those situations. And our initial 1 million acre recommendation was simply drawing back to the exact specific wording of that bill.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. In the description of the lands that will be set aside in 1952, there are several pages of different sections of lands. Do you believe that all the lands that would fall under the 1964 description have been addressed in this bill? I mean, I have heard those of you who are commissioners express concern that this is going to go on and on and on and on. And I appreciate your tying it back to the original 1964 Act.
Mr. JOHNSON. So your question is have we addressed all of the lands? Yes, ma'am, we certainly have. We have walked those lands, driven those lands, flown over those lands a multitude of times, and have used our satellite locators to be sure that we identified the roads and the conflicts. And we have addressed all of those lands, as a matter of fact.
And we feel comfortable in recommending those lands for wilderness status even though, in our opinion, wilderness is not protection. We believe that there are far better ways to protect land and to manage it than wilderness, but we are comfortable with making that kind of a recommendation and feel that we have adequately scoured those lands for those imprints.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So would you be comfortable then in adding after the descriptionsI had it right here before mewhere it says in the release languageyes, in the release language that all other lands shall be released for multiple use under FLPMA and the other references that are made here with language that says hereinafter and forevermore which States that ends it?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JOHNSON. We would not only be comfortable, that would be our strong preference. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. I also wanted to ask Mr. Harja, is there a national indicator by which we can establish equivalent value?
Mr. HARJA. The standards are set by the various appraisal groups. There are standards of what constitutes an appraisal. There are standards of what is fair market value. That is what we use.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. And what are the names of those standards? Is it a western standard?
Mr. HARJA. No. It is the Appraisal Institute and the other nationwide groups of groups of appraisers. It is an industry group. They set the criteria for themselves on what constitutes an appraisal and what has to be in an appraisal.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. So if the equivalent value were also hooked to a national indicator
Mr. HARJA. That would be fine with us.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. [continuing] do you think that would be fair?
Mr. HARJA. I think it is already sufficiently hooked to it. It is fine. It is just that the Federal Government is attempting to say what is a market and what isn't.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. In the language of the law where it states the State of Utah shall be entitled to select unappropriated public lands of equivalent value, if there was an indicator hooked to that?
Mr. HARJA. If the Congress could say in terms of mineral potentialif the United States Geological Survey says this area is low potential and this area is low potential for whatever, we would be happy to swap within that standard or high potential. I don't want to indicate to you we want to take a low potential the State owns and trade into high. That is not fair.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CHENOWETH. No.
Mr. HARJA. We just want to go across. That would work.
Mrs. CHENOWETH. That is right. Thank you very much.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from New York.
Mr. HINCHEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I want to express my appreciation to the panel of witnesses for their being here today and for bringing to the subcommittee their particular perspective on this issue. It is very important to us and very enlightening to hear your perspective on it. And I very much appreciate you taking the trouble to do so.
I just want to ask a couple of questions of Mr. Harja, if I may, with regard to the school trust situation. First of all, could you tell me roughly what percentage of all the lands owned by the school trust would be encumbered by either of the two bills that are the subject of this hearing?
Mr. HARJA. Well, in H.R. 1500, I have been told it would be anywhere from 650 to 700,000 acres. The total acreage we own is 3.7 million. I can't do the math right in my head but
Mr. HINCHEY. And with the other bill?
Mr. HARJA. It would be around 200,000 acres approximately.
Mr. HINCHEY. Now, you say you have been told. Can you tell us what authority that is who gave you that information?
Mr. HARJA. The 600,000 acre figure I took out of the ''Wilderness at the Edge'' book. The 200,000 acres
Mr. HINCHEY. And the 200,000 acre figure?
Mr. HARJA. Is just an approximate looking at the map and counting.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HINCHEY. So that is not an accurate figure?
Mr. HARJA. No, no.
Mr. HINCHEY. It is just a rough approximation. Is it possible to arrive at a more accurate figure?
Mr. HARJA. Certainly, if we knew the boundaries of all of them exactly, we would simply go and do a GIS map and count. And then we would go through our records, which are automated now, and add them up.
Mr. HINCHEY. OK. It might be interesting for us to have that figure if it is not too inconvenient for you or too difficult for you to arrive at it.
Mr. HARJA. No, it is not. In fact, when the monument was declared, we immediately set to work, and that is how we focused in on 176,000 acres of trust lands in the monument.
Mr. HINCHEY. OK. So you will provide the committee with that number when you can come up with it?
Mr. HARJA. Yes, sir, I will do that. Yes, sir.
Mr. HINCHEY. I appreciate that very much. Can you tell us how much revenue all of the remaining school trust lands that are producing todayhow much they are producing today? I am referring to income derived from the lands themselves, not from financial assets of the trust.
Mr. HARJA. The annual income stream this last year was $16 million, and next year we are projecting $18 to $19 million.
Mr. HINCHEY. Sixteen and next year $18$19?
Mr. HARJA. Yes.
Mr. HINCHEY. And that represents then 1 percent of the amount of money
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HARJA. No, sir. That money is put in the permanent fund, and the interest off the permanent fund less an inflation factor represents the 1 percent.
Mr. HINCHEY. OK. Thank you very much. Earlier this year, the school trust took an ad in ''Roll Call,'' sort of the Hill magazine around herenewspaper, which criticized H.R. 1500. Subsequently, Mr. Terry and other representatives of the school trust came to Washington and conducted a staff briefing. It was rather sparsely attended, but, nevertheless, there was a staff briefing in this building about the school trust problems.
At that briefing, Mr. Terry acknowledged that H.R. 1500 was not actually causing any problems for the school trust now, that it isn't likely to be considered in this Congress. That is to say the bill is not likely to be considered in this Congress, and that the problem of enclosed or encumbered trust lands would exist even if that bill, H.R. 1500, had never been introduced.
So I just have a couple of general questions with regard to the lobbying effort that is taking place centered around H.R. 1500. H.R. 1500 has been around for 8 years. No action on it is expected this year. What is the cause of the lobbying effort at this particular moment? What gives rise to it?
Mr. HARJA. Congressman, you are right. It has been there for 8 years. We have constantly said you need to put a trust lands provision in the bill. We appreciate the language you have now. We don't think it is sufficient. We felt we were being ignored so we felt like we needed to come here and make a statement, and that was the statement that was made.
Mr. HINCHEY. You say the language in the bill now is sufficient?
Mr. HARJA. No, it is not.
Mr. HINCHEY. Is not sufficient?
Mr. HARJA. No.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HINCHEY. OK. Well, I would be interested to hear from you, you know, what language you thoughtnot at this moment, but what language you thought would be sufficient. We would be happy, of course, to take a look at that.
Mr. HARJA. Congressman Cannon's language is a good start.
Mr. HINCHEY. Well, I would like your perspective on it.
Mr. HARJA. Congressman Cannon's language is a good start.
Mr. HINCHEY. Well, if you want to present me with your alternative, I would be happy to receive it. If you don't, that is fine also.
Mr. HARJA. I will do that.
Mr. HINCHEY. What is the origin of the plan? Who conceived of the lobbying plan? Was it developed solely by the people who work for the school trust?
Mr. HARJA. Yes.
Mr. HINCHEY. Was Conoco involved in the plan in any way?
Mr. HARJA. No.
Mr. HINCHEY. They had no interest in it and were not involved in it?
Mr. HARJA. No, not a bit.
Mr. HINCHEY. OK. There was a Utah newspaper which quoted Mr. Terry as saying, ''I met with a member of my staff''that is, my staff''earlier in April to explain the trust land situation.'' That is the end of that quote.
In fact, a member of my staff attended Mr. Terry's briefing when he was here at that time, and Mr. Terry seemed quite surprised by his presence. At no time in the 4 years since I introduced H.R. 1500 has any representative of the school trust asked me to meet with them or meet with my staff.
Mr. Terry was further quoted in the paper as saying that I may planthe quote is, ''A plan to ignore trust land issues altogether.'' That I think is, frankly, a misrepresentation of the bill that I introduced, H.R. 1500. Mr. Terry and his attorneys I think really know thatand also a misrepresentation of what was said at that unrequested meeting. My question is will someone, you or Mr. Terry, set the record straight on that?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HARJA. I would be happy to. I was here. It was in this very room. As we explained, we felt we were being ignored, and we were very happy to have your representative there. And he indicated if we wanted to, we could come try to see you.
Our interest is fulfilled by this hearing. Almost every single one of the Congresspersons and members here have spoken of school trust lands. I certainly hope the next panel will speak of them. We want to resolve this issue. We would like to find a standard solution that works.
Mr. HINCHEY. Well, we share that objective. I would like to resolve the issue also. As I have indicated, the bill was introduced 8 years ago before I got here. I would like to see it resolved at some reasonable point in the future as quickly as possible.
But I do want you to know, and I think you do know, that I personally am available to you or anyone else who wishes to meet with me on this particular subject. My staff is available to you under the same circumstances; that is, we are always available to you. No one had contacted us. Therefore, there was no way for us to know that there was anyone who thought they were being ignored.
And I just want to assure you that we have no intention of ignoring you, have not ignored you in the past, will not ignore you in the future. Any concerns that you want to bring to our attention, we will be happy to look at them and to consider them in great detail.
Mr. HARJA. I will try to see you very soon and explain our concerns to you.
Mr. HINCHEY. OK. Thanks very much. I appreciate it.
Ms. LISTON. Could I just please
Mr. HANSEN. The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANNON. LouiseI am not sure if I should call you Louise or Mrs. or Commissioner.
Ms. LISTON. Whatever.
Mr. CANNON. My dear friend, you have a comment. Would you like to make that?
Ms. LISTON. I just wanted to point out that one of the reasons for the renewed interest was that 2 years ago the school trust board was replaced by a new administration which is called the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. And a seven-member board was created, and that was done for the purpose of doing a better job of bringing revenues into the school trust fund. And we have been working very hard at doing that the last 2 years, and I think that probably generated a lot of the interest that has gone on.
Mr. HINCHEY. Thank you. I certainly understand the underlying motive for which that action swings in that case, and I thank you.
Mr. CANNON. Mr. Harja, could you tell us a little bit about the recent exchange of school trust lands in Arches, what the process was, how long it took, and what some of the pressures there were?
Mr. HARJA. You are referring to the exchange involved in your proposal to add
Mr. CANNON. To expand the Arches, yes.
Mr. HARJA. Not the other exchange. We are engaged in another exchange.
Mr. CANNON. If you could talk about both of those, I would appreciate it.
Mr. HARJA. There are school trust lands in Arches that were captured when it was a national monument and then became a national park. They have been there for decades. A number of years ago, about 8 years ago, we went down there to talk to the Park Service personnel about doing something about them. And the Park Service personnel said, ''We don't want to do anything about them. They are already ours.'' So that was an initiation of an attempt to exchange.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANNON. Did you say the Park Service said, ''We don't want to exchange them. They are already ours''?
Mr. HARJA. That is correct. It was a seasonal
Mr. CANNON. By that you mean because they are incorporated within the park
Mr. HARJA. Yes.
Mr. CANNON. [continuing] they had the benefit of those school trust lands without paying for it?
Mr. HARJA. That is what they said. The leadership of that park subsequently recanted that statement. However, what it represents is a feeling that this was not a problem. This was about eightnine years ago. That is why I am so pleased here today that people are paying attention to the issue.
In an attempt to exchange in a fair market value sense, an equal-value-for-equal-value exchange was passed by this Congress in 1993, and we have been at it ever since. We have been appraising. We are now to the point we have, in fact, had a first meeting where we are arm wrestling the Feds over what the real value is. This is a negotiation, and we hope to conclude that soon. We may have to go to the judicial and ask for their advice.
The more recent effort of the Congressman is to add a little bit to the park. There is one section inside it. And, once again, the BLM is looking very carefully in much too much detail and stalling in the sense of figuring out what the value is, and we just simply want to swap it. You take this one, and we will take that one over there. It is equivalent valuemineralsand all that sort of thing, and nothing ever seems to get done. And that is why you need to keep them at the table.
Mr. CANNON. There is a fairly high incentive to make this recent trade where we would be expanding the park because that is not part of the park inventory right now, but the current park leadership wants that expansion to happen. Is that the reason we were able to actually consummate a trade?
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HARJA. Yes, sir. The exchange is not consummated yet as far as I can tell.
Mr. CANNON. But that is why we have gotten close to it?
Mr. HARJA. We are getting as close as any other. We are also extremely close to an exchange of desert tortoise land near St. George. But, once again, as the appraisals are becoming done, a Federal review appraiser interfered in the process, and that stalls things even more.
Mr. CANNON. Maybe we ought to have a hearing where we ask those questions of the appraisers and their hierarchy. Just one final question. Mr. Hinchey's bill refers to FLPMA as the exchange mechanism. The bulk of what you are saying, the thrust of your testimony is that that does not work. Is that correct?
Mr. HARJA. The structure is there or the structure should work. What we find in practice is that it becomes bogged down, and, ''If you don't do it our way, we won't play. We will take our marbles and run,'' they being the Feds. And we need to keep them at the table, and we need a serious way to resolve valuesdifferences in value. And that is the subset of the same problem.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Harja. Commissioner Liston, you mentioned that my bill actually incorporates more land than would be justified by your understanding of the law and the description of what would be encompassed by that. And then you said that for political reasons, you have been willing to go with a larger amount of land.
And, Commissioner Judd, you reiterated those same concepts, and both suggested that the amount of land that would be susceptible to wilderness designation based upon your understanding of the law would be in the ballpark of a million acres, which is much less than what I have even proposed here.
Let me be very clear about my view of the 2.1 million acres that we proposed. As you are aware, we had lots of discussions about what made sense to do. This is essentially the billit is the bill that was proposed by the delegation before. There have been some serious changes.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the meantime, we now have a monument. It is my view that a monument precludes wilderness designation. I think that was also the idea or the opinion of some of the lawyers involved in considering the monument. That would take about 325,000 acres out. I think the 300,000 acres that was included at the last minute moved by Enid Green was not well considered and needs to be considered.
When I say that I believe we need to look at the law and the science, by that I mean we don't necessarily think we will end up with 2.1 million acres. It may be significantly less if the law described drives that. It may be more if, in fact, our opinions differ to what applies, and we make a legal conclusion that more would apply.
Let me also add that I think in that discussion we used the term science. You know, we are saying what is the area regardless of the law that should be preserved because you have a delicate ecosystem? And as we look at the science, we may find that there are areas where you have had incursions of man that still should be called wilderness. And in those cases, we have to look at a compromise.
This is a complex issue that we will have to deal with in a complex manner, and that may mean that we will have to reclaim some of those incursions of mankind, and that is the intent of the bill. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. I don't quite understand, Mr. Harja, the problem of the Federal agency's refusal to recognize values for conservation purposes and what problem that creates for the school exchange. Explain that a little further please.
Mr. HARJA. We are engaged in an appraisal process. Appraisals are for market value. There is a belief in this country that there is a market now for the purchase of lands for conservation purposes. There are groups we all know, the Trust for Public Lands, Nature Conservancy, and others, who buy land. Sometimes they go on to the Federal Government, sometimes they don't.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The point is there is at least the appearance of a market. Now, whether each individual transaction constitutes a comparable is open to appraisers looking at them. What we see, however, is that the Federal Government, led by the Department of Justice, is attempting to squash that as a market and say you cannot use those comparables at all.
And, in fact, a gentleman from Alaska at this conference yesterday got up and said an RFP, request for proposal, has been sent out by the Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska, and it saysand this is hearsay, of courseyou have to ask himif you attempt to do this kind of appraisal or use those kind of comparables, not only will we not hire you, but we will file an ethical complaint against you with the Appraisal Institute.
I don't mind negotiating on each and every comparable about what it is and getting down and hard about appraisals, but when somebody is attempting to set the market, it is a problem. And that is what we sense is happening.
Mr. HANSEN. I would like to thank the panel.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. HANSEN. Just one moment please. We would like to ask the Commissioners from Garfield and Kane County, would you describe the social impacts of the decrease of solid resource production jobs leaving your counties?
Ms. LISTON. I would be glad to go first on that because my county has the highest unemployment rate in the State of Utah. And that is we are a very rural county. Rural counties are rural because they depend upon the land for making a living and keeping their communities stable and their economies stable. When you take away that option, you take away the option for any community to survive.
And over the past few years, as long as I have been a commissioner, which is 10 years, and many years before that, resource development has decreased considerably each year. Two sawmills in our county have been shut down that depended upon resource development. Mines have been denied applications. We have one of the largest known CO2 fields right next to Escalante where I live, and that has been stopped. We had a coal-generation plant back in about 5 years ago. That was stopped.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I mean, everything that we have tried to do with the land in my county has been stopped as far as natural resource development is concerned. So economically we are strapped to making a living on tourism. And although we love it and our tourism industry is the largest employer in our county, it just does not put food on the table in the winter months, and it is a low-paying job that has no benefits attached to it. And it is just not the kind of thing that generates a healthy economy.
Mr. HANSEN. Well, what was the reason that Kaibab closed?
Ms. LISTON. A number of reasons, one of them being appeals from environmental groups. For the 5 years prior to when the sawmills closed, every appeal but oneI mean, every timber offering sale but one was appealed. And another was that they were considering the Mexican spotted owl and habitat for the Goshawk, some of those Endangered Species Act issues.
Mr. HANSEN. Commissioner Judd?
Mr. JUDD. Thank you, Congressman. We lost a uranium mining operation right on the border of northern Arizona. Most of the help came from my county, Kane County, which is just across the county. It was about 200 jobs. As Commissioner Liston just alluded to, the Goshawk and the spotted owl, never seen, but suspected might live there some day, closed the sawmill there at Freedonia and where our people were employed of about 700 jobs.
And then, of course, the beauty, the one that really was the icing on the cake, after the EIS had gone on for about 6 years proving the fact that it could be mined in the Smokey Hollow area, our coal mine, which would have employed about 900 people, also was denied. And so now, like Commissioner Liston, we are at abeyance and hopefully that we will have an opportunity to make a living with the tourist trade.
I might also add that the tourist trade provides something for my county that has been a surprise. We began keeping records of our Court cases, and we found that during the tourist months, our Court cases became a spike. And now we are asked by the State of Utah to provide another Courtroom that will employ at least two more Judges just to take care of that caseload. So we have really been impacted and don't look for the tourism to be the solution to our problems.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Did I miss something? Did you say that there were two endangered species in your area that was never verified
Mr. JUDD. It was a suspicion.
Mr. HANSEN. [continuing] but now has got a threatened or endangered habitat?
Mr. JUDD. This Kaibab Forest was suspicioned to be the habitat of an owl never seen.
Mr. HANSEN. Did the Fish and Wildlife declare it a threatened or endangered area?
Mr. JUDD. That is right. They said that the area that was studied was an area that might be inhabited some day because they deemed the area to be a habitat that might support the spotted owl. They had never seen one.
Mr. HANSEN. You are not pulling our leg are you, Commissioner?
Mr. JUDD. I am not. I am not. And that is the last thing I would want to do, Congressman.
Ms. LISTON. In fact, Mr. Chairman, I think they called it future protectionwhat did they call it? They had a name for itfor futureI can't think of itpotential habitat or something of those birds.
Mr. HANSEN. I guess I will have to go back and read that law. I thought I understood it. The gentleman from American Samoa, you had additional questions?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Just one additional question, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to ask Mr. Harja, is there a standard method currently being instituted to establish land appraisals? The meaning of my questiondoes the State of Utah have a different method of appraising land valuations than that from BLM or other Federal agencies?
Mr. HARJA. No, sir. We want to use the same method as used nationwide. We want to use the same standards. If there is a market, we want to be able to use the market as comparables in the appraisals.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. My question is is there a difference? I mean, are you applying the same method as the Federal agency of land valuations?
Mr. HARJA. We are trying to make sure that appraisersall of these are involving independent appraisers that are hired to do this workwe are trying to make sure that the appraisers can use whatever they believe to be a market. We do not believe that the Federal Government is allowing that to happen.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Should the Congress spell out how these appraisal methods ought to be done?
Mr. HARJA. Yes.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. All right. Maybe this is something that we can address here. I notice in your capacity as the Vice Chairman of the Utah School, has there been any valuation done of the 3.7 million acres of school trust lands?
Mr. HARJA. There have not been appraisals done in every single one of them, no. We only do appraisals when there is a need. We have gone through and inventoried all of our lands and have gotten them computerized and have set a book value for purposes, and sometimes that is around just a book value of a dollar an acre, which everybody knows what that is.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. So let us say approximately for the three commissioners here representing the three counties, can you wing ithave any sense of what it might be for the three counties that are represented here?
Mr. HARJA. Emery County has got a lot of production on trust lands. They have got some methane gas that is probably worth a fair amount to them. Garfield County is allnot much going on. And I don't know about Kane County right offhand. There is not a lot going on down there right now because of the monument and wilderness and other things.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. So even currently there is a question on the standard on how we go about appraising lands, I mean, between the Federal and the State. And do you feel that we should be a little more specific on how we should go about making these valuations?
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HARJA. It seems to me if the Federal agencies, the executive branch is interested in really looking at what represents a market value and swapping value for value, which is what FLPMA requires, they need to be a little morethey need to be directed.
It is our viewthis is just us talkingand others in the appraisal world agree that they are attempting and are, in fact, through their intimidation tactics getting away with setting what a market is, rather than leaving it to the free marketplace to determine what a market is. That is what we have a concern about. If there is something that Congress can do, an oversight hearing or set legislation, I would appreciate it.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Well, I certainly would welcome your opinion on this and certainly would like to work closely with Congressman Cannon to see how that might be resolved. And I appreciate your response. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Cannon, do you have any further questions? Let me just say my able legal staff has corrected me on what Commissioner Judd said. We have endangered habitat for areas where we have no fish, but we have a fossil fish, which I think is maybe an extreme application of the law, but who am I to say? I am not entirely in accord with the Endangered Species Act. Mr. Cannon.
Mr. CANNON. Let me just followup, Mr. Chairman, on that and see if II have heard the story about the Kaibab. And it seems to me that you had a planning process down there, the Forest Service doing its plana 5-year plan I believe. And it was in the context of that that there was a lawsuit by environmental groups that ended in requiring them either by agreement or otherwise to look at habitat for the Goshawk and the Mexican spotted owl. Is that not what happened there?
Mr. JUDD. That is correct.
Mr. CANNON. So, in fact, you had a plan. That plan was objected to by a lawsuit from environmental groups?
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JUDD. That is my understanding, Congressman.
Mr. CANNON. That is ultimately what ended up shutting off the logging because they didn't have a plan. They couldn't sell?
Mr. JUDD. That was the triggering mechanism. There were many things that took place after that situation arose, and it was merely the triggering mechanism. It was the domino that pushed that rest of it over.
Mr. CANNON. Do you recall which environmental groups brought that lawsuit?
Mr. JUDD. No, I do not.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. We appreciate the panel and your excellent testimony you have given us. And we will excuse you at this point. And we will ask our last panel if they will please come forward; Mr. William H. Meadows, President of The Wilderness Society; Debbie Sease, Legislative Director of the Sierra Club; and Heidi J. McIntosh, Legal Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Thank you very much. We appreciate your presence with us and appreciate your patience more than anything. Let me point outI guess you all know the rules here. Mr. Meadows, we will start with you. Is 5 minutes sufficient? If you have to go over, by all means, go ahead.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM H. MEADOWS, PRESIDENT, THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY
Mr. MEADOWS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee. I am Bill Meadows, President of The Wilderness Society, and I am pleased to come before you today to discuss a matter of great significance to our Nation's natural resources and public landsthe protection of the magnificent red rock canyons and other public lands in Utah. And I am not going ballistic.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, the United States set on a course, uncharted in the history of nations, to preserve a few of the country's last remaining wildlands as cultural and scientific enclaves and to protect their natural ecological processes and values from encroaching an indiscriminate development.
Thanks to the wisdom, foresight, and perseverance of many dedicated individuals across this Nation, generations will enjoy an enduring legacy of wilderness resources to provide wildlife habitat, healthy soils and watersheds, primitive recreation, solitude, cultural and historical resources, and other scientific and ecological values.
The Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System now some 100 million acres in size and containing wild places from all regions of the country. Some of the wildest, most magnificent and most remote wildlands in the lower 48 are in Utah, America's red rock wilderness.
''This is a region of the wildest desolation,'' wrote Major John Wesley Powell. More than four-fifths of the State has been fenced, farmed, dug up, raised into cities, criss-crossed by roads, mined, and appropriated by the military, but some 6 million acres retain that wild splendor that Powell saw. The wild public lands found in Utah harbor some of the largest and finest desert, roadless areas to be found anywhere in the world.
The Wilderness Society has been an active member of a broad coalition of 150 conservation, wildlife, scientific, and recreational organizations working to provide strong wilderness protection for BLM lands in Utah. We were a leading advocate for the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and we have fought to protect our Nation's wilderness resources and wildlands since its founding in 1935.
We have offices in most regions of the country and a staff of trained scientists, economists, and advocates. We work with a wide variety of State, regional, and national organizations to further the protection of Federal lands.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our 300,000 members and supporters believe in the sound management and protection of our Nation's public lands, national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and designated wilderness areas. They look to us to speak for these lands and the many values they provide us.
Let me turn to H.R. 1500 and H.R. 1952. These could not be two more different approaches to wilderness. One protects wilderness, one does not. The Wilderness Society is proud to be part of a coalition of 150 national, regional, and local organizations that support the citizens wilderness proposal contained in H.R. 1500 and sponsored by Mr. Hinchey called America's Red Rock Wilderness Act.
This bill, and its newly introduced Senate companion legislation, Senate Bill 773, would provide protection for most of the remaining wilderness resources on public lands managed by the BLM in Utah. In addition, H.R. 1500 would maintain the integrity of the wilderness system by continuing the important wilderness protections afforded to designated areas by the Wilderness Act of 1964.
The wilderness designations of H.R. 1500 are also widely supported by the people of Utah. Nearly 70 percent of those responding to Governor Leavitt's request for public comment indicated their support for the acreage of wilderness designations contained in H.R. 1500. In addition, when asked in a recent independent poll does wilderness designation make an area more or less appealing to you as a place to visit, 64 percent replied that wilderness designation makes a place more appealing.
We oppose H.R. 1952, Representative Cannon's Utah bill, because we believe that it actually makes no definite wilderness designation. It fails to provide protection for millions of acres of wilderness quality land. It ensures that undesignated areas will never again be considered for wilderness protection. And if by chance wilderness designations were ever to be actually implemented, these areas would be riddled by activities that are antithetical to wilderness.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me close by restating our interest in working with Representative Cannon and members of this Committee in addressing the issues of State trust lands. The Wilderness Act of 1964 provides for and The Wilderness Society supports the opportunity for State owned or privately owned land surrounded by congressionally designated wilderness to be exchanged for federally owned lands in the same State of approximately equal value under authorities available to the Secretary. It is in the bill. We are eager to work with you in resolving that particular disagreement. Again, I want to thank the committee for inviting me and The Wilderness Society to be present today.
[Prepared statement of Mr. Meadows may be found at end of hearing.]
Chairman HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Meadows. Debbie Sease, we will turn the time to you.
STATEMENT OF DEBBIE SEASE, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, SIERRA CLUB
Ms. SEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to testify before you again. I would like to just briefly summarize my written statement. There are three issues I would like to touch on with regard to H.R. 1500. The Sierra Club vigorously supports this bill. It is a citizens proposal. It is a bill that is based on a citizens proposal.
The reason citizens had to go out and put their own proposal together on this stemmed in large part from the failure of the Bureau of Land Management in the late 70's and early 80's to do an adequate job on the inventory. I actually personally toured much of the areas that are covered by this bill with then State Director Gary Wicks.
And we stood in many, many areas where as far as the eye could see it was wild country. It was beautiful country in many cases. It was natural. It was largely unaffected by man, and Mr. Wicks would say, ''We dropped this entire area because you can't have outstanding solitude here. There is not enough topographical relief.'' So the inventory itself was shrunk far less than should have been considered.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The second point I wanted to make on H.R. 1500 is that it protects large blocks of largely intact ecosystem. It has a range of elevations of ecological communities and, where possible, entire watersheds. And it is one of the things I think is the strength of H.R. 1500 as a statewide wilderness bill for BLM.
Finally, I wanted to turn to the comments that have been raised this morning and previously about whether or not the areas in H.R. 1500 qualify as wilderness. The issue of whether or not areas are pure enough to be included in a wilderness system is not a new issue. I think for as long as the Wilderness Act has been around, this has been a subject of debate.
The Forest Service during the Rare One and Rare Two process spent a lot of time saying that areas should not be included in the wilderness system because they weren't pure enough because of the existence of an old two-track trail or stock watering ponds or abandoned mines. In Utah national forest wilderness, there are numerous examples of the same kinds of impacts that we see in H.R. 1500. I have itemized some of those in my statement.
I think if you look back to the crafters of the Wilderness Act itself, some of the things that they said about this issue are relevant here. Senator Mark Hatfield in 1973 said, ''I am not a lawyer, but I do not think this language means there cannot ever have been human activities within the area, as the Forest Service seems to think or believe.''
Senator James Buckley, another Republican from New York, said, ''The untrammeled-by-man criteria, in my view, reflects an overly literal and narrow interpretation of the term wilderness. It ignores the elucidative phrases which also appear in Section 2[c] of the Wilderness Act, defining candidate areas as those which are without permanent improvements and with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable.''
During the debate on the Wilderness Act, Clinton P. Anderson says that the Wilderness Act ''contains two definitions of wilderness. The first sentence is a definition of the pure wilderness area where the earth and its community are untrammeled by man. It states the ideal. The second sentence defines the meaning or nature of an area of wilderness as used in the proposed Act. The substantial area retaining its primeval character without permanent improvements which is to be protected and managed so man's works are substantially unnoticeable.''
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, finally, former Chairman of the Interior Committee, Morris Udall, said, ''It would be nice to have our wilderness preservation system absolutely pure and completely free of any sign of the hand of man. But the fact is we are getting a late start in this business of preserving America's wilderness. We cannot have perfection.''
With regard to H.R. 1952, we have three general areas of concern. One is the scopethe fact that far too little acreage and too small an area is protected; second, a series of management concerns, which I have detailed in my written statement; and, finally, the provision on State school exchanges.
With regard to the State school exchanges, there have been numerous models in previous BLM wilderness bills to attempt to expedite, to put some pressure on the Federal Government to stay at the table. And those examples, in my view, have managed to do so without unbalancing the playing field between the State and Federal interests.
And I would urge the committee in looking to solutions for the State school trust lands to look to some previous models, whether it is the Arizona Wilderness bill, the California Desert Protection Act. There were special provisions in the El Malpais Monument and Wilderness Area in New Mexico, and I think some of those are more fruitful models than what we see in H.R. 1952. That concludes my statement. I am happy to answer any questions.
[Prepared statement of Ms. Sease may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. I appreciate your testimony and appreciate you being with us. Heidi McIntosh, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF HEIDI J. McINTOSH, LEGAL DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE
Ms. MCINTOSH. Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity today to comment on H.R. 1952, as well as on H.R. 1500, America's Red Rock Wilderness Act.
Mr. HANSEN. Pull the mike just a tad closer please. Thank you.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCINTOSH. Is that better? I speak on behalf of the 25,000 SUWA members from throughout the country who cherish the breathtaking wildlands of southern Utah. H.R. 1952 suffers from numerous problems, but I will focus on two defects in the bill todayits limited size and its fatally flawed process for the exchange of school trust lands.
Simply put, H.R. 1952 is deju vu all over again. We have seen this bill before, minimal in acreage, leaving out places that vividly embody the core characteristics of wilderness. These places include the stunning coral pink sand dunes of Moquith Mountain, Fish, Owl and Road Canyons in the Cedar Mesa area, lower Muddy Creek, much of Labyrinth Canyon, the serpentine canyons of the Paria, and other areas too numerous to mention here.
The magnificence of Utah wilderness is no longer a secret shared by Utahans and a few adventurers from around the globe. Americans from every walk of life cherish the beauty of these unique lands and are fully aware of the threats of this wondrous region, whether from inadequate wilderness legislation or from the blade of a bulldozer.
Last year, in a stunning show of grassroots outrage, thousands of Americans from every corner of the country urged their Senators and Representatives to reject the Utah Delegation's paltry offer to extend protection to only 2.1 million acres. 5.7 million acres, not 1.8 or 2.1, was the message here heard in the Capitol, and the bill was defeated.
Let me turn to the school trust problem, because we recognize that it is a significant problem. We would like to work with everyone involved to resolve it. We support in principle the idea that the school trust administration should be compensated fairly for lands where economically viable development is hampered by wilderness designation.
But first, some background. Without any restrictions attributable to wilderness designations, Utah has not been able to generate more than about 1 percent of the school budget from these lands. These lands are not a significant source of school funds under the best of circumstances.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Further, funding for public schools has traditionally come from taxes distributed by the State legislature. In Utah, where the government always runs in the blackthere is money in the bankState legislators reach out to Utah's school children with empty hands. Virtually no other State provides as little funding to educate its children as Utah.
This is not to say that trust lands should not be used to help finance State schools. They should, and we don't contest that. But blaming wilderness protection and wilderness supporters for lost education funding is a red herring that deflects attention from the serious problems that we have before us todayhow to protect Utah wilderness.
Having said this, I reiterate that we support fair compensation to the trust. However, this bill is not acceptable. First, this bill postpones wilderness protection until the exchange process is completed. It would hold wilderness hostage to a State government and give control over Federal lands most in need of protection to those least interested in shielding it from development, to those with a strong motive to hold out, delaying the process with exorbitant claims, and all the while the lands with wilderness character remain unprotected and vulnerable to exploitation. Never before has wilderness protection been subject to this kind of State control.
The bill is also unacceptable because it strips the Secretary of his authority to resist unreasonable State demands for Federal lands, demands that may well wreak havoc on public lands management and result in exchanges that are not based on equivalent value.
Further, after the exchange is accomplished, the BLM would hold the former State section subject to existing leases and permits. Thus, exchange places all the benefits in the hands of the State and leaves the BLM holding the bag. It has to buy out the State lands, pay for the exchange process itself, and may yet again have to buy out the holders of the leases and permits whose activity would threaten even the mere acreage that would be protected under this bill. This bill would drain the Federal Treasury of crucial tax dollars.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me say too in closing that we understand, as I said, that the State school trust sections are a problem. They are a problem for us. They are a problem for a trust land administration. They are a problem for the Federal Government. And we have gone to the Utah Delegation and to the Governor of Utah to express our strong interest in trading out these lands within the monument.
It would be a terrific idea to use the monument as a laboratory to see how we may be able to effectuate an exchange which is mutually beneficial for all the parties concerned. And I hope that we can work together while these bills are pending. There is a window of opportunity to see what we can accomplish together, all parties sitting at the table as equal bargaining parties. And I think that that is how it ought to progress instead of using the hammer provisions of Mr. Cannon's bill. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
[Prepared statement of Ms. McIntosh may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. We appreciate your comments. I don't mean to take issue with anybody and be argumentative. I used to be Speaker of the Utah House before I came here, and that made me Chairman of the Executive Appropriations Committee. And I just hope you realize that the biggest percent of money that goes into the State goes to schools that comes out of our school budget. We have the highest of any State in the Union.
We put more of our percent of money into schools than any other State in the Union. I don't know how much more you can push these folks. Yet, as Louise pointed out or Mr. Harja, per student it is still the smallest. Now, the obvious thing there is that there is more children than other people, and there is no question about that. I won't argue that point. We have a lot of children.
Also on your testimony where you point out that last year's delegation bill went down in ringing defeat. I don't know where I was. That was my bill that passed everyplace it went. It passed the subcommittee. It passed Full Committee. It passed the Senate. And if you would like to see the whip check, we had 231 votes over here. It takes 218 to pass. There are 57 in the Senate.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would agree, and more than happy to accept that, that the President would veto it. And if that is considered ringing defeat, fine. But as far as the delegation's bill, it could easily have passed the House and the Senate. I don't know if it can now. That is something we may find out, but I guess there is a part of definition on that so I won't argue that point with anybody.
Ms. MCINTOSH. My reference was to the fact that it did not come out of the Senate and didn't become law but
Mr. HANSEN. I am sorry. I didn't hear.
Ms. MCINTOSH. My reference was to the fact that it did not emerge from the Senate as law, but I don't want to argue with you on that point either.
Mr. HANSEN. It passed the Senate committee and passed over here. I sponsored the bill. I can tell you that is what happened. And we did an exhaustive whip check on itvery exhausting whip check on it. So what is the benefit of getting your head bashed in to send it down to Pennsylvania Avenue and have it come back, and we couldn't override a veto. I would agree with that if that constitutes a ringing defeat, but the bill wasn't defeated. There was enough up here to pass it in both places, and I don't mean to get into a semantic game, but that is what really happened.
Mr. Meadows, you made a point, as did Heidi McIntosh, about the polls, that the majority of people in Utah, in your opinion, and the polls you quoted wanted the 5.7 million acres. You know what I would be willing to do? I would be willing to say let us put it on the ballot, have no binding effect in Congress I am afraid to admit, and if 5.7 came out, I would sponsor the bill.
And I would make that pledge and sign it. If zero came out, I would sponsor the bill. If 1.4 came out, I would sponsor the bill. I mean, I have been in the State for a long time. I have 38 years as an elected official from that State. I was Speaker of the Utah House, the highest position in the legislature. I think I have a good knowledge of that, and I also know every pollster in that State. And I also know how they ask the questions, and I have done my share of actuarial work in polling. And I would be willing to take that pledge. I will sponsor it
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CANNON. If the Chairman would yield, I would take that pledge too.
Mr. HANSEN. But I want you to take the same pledge, that the President of The Wilderness Society would say whatever comes out, we will stand behind it. Do you take that pledge?
Mr. MEADOWS. Mr. Chairman, these issues are very complex, and I think when you survey the citizens of southern Utah, you survey the citizens of Utah as a State, and you survey the citizens of the United States as well, who actually have a significant interest. These are national lands. They are not simply Utah lands.
I think we need to have all of the information that we possibly can have about people's attitudes, and I think that is what we are doing here today is trying to exchange opinions, trying to understand what different Representatives believe is the correct way to go. We represent people who have strong wilderness values.
We see a lot of support for those values within the State of Utah, and the polling that we have seen indicates that support. When you get down to specific acreage and specific places, I am not certain the polling is that detailed. We would have to be careful then orchestrating that kind of instrument. We would be willing to explore that with you though.
Mr. HANSEN. I don't argue what you are saying. I just read your testimony and Heidi McIntosh's testimony where you both made a rather big point, that the people in Utah wanted that. I would concur with what you say. Other people have an interest in it. And you could add to your discussion to meyou could say will you make it a nationwide poll. Of course we couldn't.
I would do that if I could vote on all their stuff in every one of their areas. With that in mind, I cannot understand why you folks weren't in testifying on the Eastern Wilderness bill. No one can tell me that Maine, Vermont, Georgia doesn't have some gorgeous area that should be protected in wilderness.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MEADOWS. My understanding is The Wilderness Society's Peter Kirby was here testifying on behalf of the Eastern Wilderness bill.
Mr. HANSEN. You are right and I stand corrected. And the testimony was excellent testimony, and he should be commended for it.
Mr. MEADOWS. He is very knowledgeable, and we have a lot of respect for Peter's
Mr. HANSEN. I would hope that we don't say that tongue-in-cheek on an Eastern Wilderness bill. There are plenty of areas, and what really concerns me is the people I see come out to Utah are the very wealthy. These are the people with money that come out to see it.
Yet, I worry about the innercity kid that doesn't get to enjoy that because being an old Scout master myself and taking a lot of kids into the Uinta Mountains a few times, which is one of the most pristine, gorgeous areas which is wilderness with my name on it, I would just feel that some kids on the East Coast and the East are missing out on a very good experience. And having spent years in the East, not only in this position but other positions, I know there are some gorgeous, gorgeous areas. And I do appreciate that, and I appreciate your comment.
Mr. MEADOWS. I am sorry that Mr. Duncan is no longer here. I am from Tennessee, and I was very actively involved in Eastern Wilderness bills 20 years ago.
Mr. HANSEN. Well, I commend you for that because I would hope to see the support of all three of your groups on something that I consider a good piece of legislation. Back to the poll, Heidi, what about you folks? Will you go along with that?
Ms. MCINTOSH. Well, there is support for 5.7 million acres of wilderness in Utah, as you know, and that poll is a 1995 poll that was conducted by Valley Research. And the plurality of the people polled were in favor of 5.7 million acres, and that is an important consideration, but it isn't the only consideration. It is only part of the equation.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The lands that we are talking about today are public lands that are owned by all Americans, and so while I think that Utah opinion is important, Utahns can't determine the fate of land that isn't owned by Utah. And so I would not be able to accept
Mr. HANSEN. I am not arguing that. I am just going to your statement. I am going to your statement.
Ms. MCINTOSH. I was responding to your question about
Mr. HANSEN. And your statement said that the majority of people in Utah wanted this, and I am just merely laying that on the table. If that is the question, let us do it that way. It would make it easy for me, for Mr. Cannon, for Senator Hatch, for Governor Leavitt, the whole nine yards. This would be a lot easier for us to just stand up and say this is what the people want, and we have all agreed that that is what we will do. But I cannot say if we can do that.
Let me just go a minute longer seeing I haven't used all my time before and say this. I would hope thatI am perfectly aware that the 5,000 acres has caveats to itno question about that. You have probably seen down in Grand County where our Indian friends are very upset about 3 areas of your 5.7 proposal in the canyons of Fish, Owl, and Road, that they feel that they are really being subjected there because that is how they get their firewood.
And in the old days, they used to drag in there and carry it out with saws and axes. Now, they go in with pickup trucks and chain sawsroads all through itfour or five areas like that that I would hope that Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Cannon, and many of you folks and the previous panel talked about that there is probably a compromise here if everyone would get off their rigidity and say where is there some give and take?
And I would hope that, if I may say to these three organizations that are well represented here today, that you would give some thought to some of those areas on a retail basis. We are kind of talking wholesale today, and on a retail basis, it would be my wish that you could work something out working with these folks who were here before and others because I really think this issue has polarized and become more contentious than it ever should be. But I want to thank all three of you for your attendance here today, and I will turn to the gentleman from American Samoa.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, the battle lines have been drawn, the die is cast, we are crossing the River Kan, and somewhere along the line I sincerely hope that we do find a resolution to the issues brought about. I was just curious too, Mr. Chairman, in asking Mr. Meadows and Ms. McIntosh, these polls were taken in 1995. Do they still stand substantively, or do you suppose that 2 years later there may have been a shift or a change in sentiments of the people of Utah?
Ms. MCINTOSH. I suspect that there may have been a shift. It is the most recent poll that was done on the issue, but since 1984, our membership in Utah and nationwide has doubled, and that was primarily because of the Utah wilderness issue and the threat that people felt was imminent and threatening these lands. And so, if anything, I would guess that there is a little more support in Utah and elsewhere for wilderness than what is reflected in this poll data.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I know the Chairman has always kindly reminded me that since taking up this responsibility as the Ranking Member that 67 percent of the State of Utah is owned by the Federal Government, as opposed to our friends from the eastern States that have literally no presence of the Federal Government.
And I guess that is part of the frustrations that some of our congressional delegations coming from western States like Nevada, Utah, and Coloradothe presence of the Federal Government can be a blessing. It can also be especially frustrating for those who do represent the Utahans or the State of Utah in that respect.
Because of that, and I suppose you might say that it is just a constant intrusion of the Federal Government by way of regulations, laws supposedly to help us dealing with wilderness, dealing with the forestry, dealing with BLM. We don't have that as muchthe presence in the eastern States. And I couldn't agree with you more. This is America. We all have got to look at what is on the grand scale of things and should be helpful.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But what do you suggest, Ms. McIntosh, to equalize this imbalancethat I consider it an imbalance? Should every State be considered maybe 50 percent owned by the Federal Government? Maybe some of the State lands owned by New York or Vermont ought to be put in some sense of balance so that there is no inequality here.
I suppose if I were a Utahan and 67 percent of the State of Utah owned by the Federal Government, would you share any sense of sentiment and frustration that maybe the residents of Utah do have and the fact that there is constantly an encroachment or an infringement of Federal laws telling them what to do?
Ms. MCINTOSH. I think you will find a split of opinion on that question. People who live in the WestI have lived in the West for almost all my life, and I thank God every day that there are Federal public lands in the West where you can go out and just experience the sheer beauty and the solitude of those lands. And sure those lands can and should be developed in some places, but they need to be protected too.
And in trying to tie back to the reason that we are here today, I think that we need to deal with the reality in that most western Statesthe Federal Government owns a large chunk of land. But let us try to make the most of it, and let us work together to try to resolve this school trust situation. The least we can do is sit around the table and try to negotiate as equal bargaining partners some sort of solution that consolidates the land to the benefit of all the parties.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. This issue is not necessarily dealing with wilderness, but I make an analogy in the fact that for the past 30 years perhaps, the nuclear industry have been great advocates of building nuclear reactors to provide electricity for our country. And in doing so, we have got a whole bunch of nuclear waste material sitting out there among the eastern States, and they want to shift it to States like Nevada or maybe even in Utah if there are some presence. Already there is a lot of presence of that.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And if you were a resident of Nevada, would you appreciate getting nuclear waste products from Tennessee and other States for the simple fact that because we own 80 percent of Nevada federally and then maybe even in Utah we should send some of our nuclear wastes byproducts to Utah because we own 67 percent of that State.
What would be your recommendation on how we might resolve this multibillion dollar problem that we are going to be faced with in the verysome very crucial weeks and months ahead, that the 1.2 million residents of Nevada are going to be the recipients of nuclear waste products that will be coming from the eastern States?
Ms. MCINTOSH. Can I study that and get back to you later? I am sorry. I know it is a complicated issue, and I don't have an answer for you as I sit here today.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Meadows?
Mr. MEADOWS. Well, I will offer an opinion. You know, I haven't studied this issue either. But I am not certain that the issue is so much whether it should be stored on Federal, private, or State lands. It seems to me that they are issues of security, they are issues of stability, they are issues of permanence.
I am not certain that Nevada is the right place to store nuclear waste. You know, I think we all wish that we did not have to deal with this problem. We do need to find a way to stabilize and secure this waste. But I don't think it has to be based on who has the most Federal lands, and, therefore, you dump it in my backyard.
Ms. SEASE. Well, again, I didn't come prepared to talk about nuclear waste disposal, but the Sierra Club does have a position against the Yucca Mountain legislation which would place nuclear waste in the Nevada. And if you want details about alternatives, I can certainly have somebody from my energy team provide you with that.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. No. I understand that, Ms. Sease. I was just making an analogy on what we are talking about. This is America, and we all ought to sharehave a great sense of responsibility to share equally in terms of some of the things that come to bear and the resources that Utah has. Great. Let us all share in the wealth, whether it be out in the wilderness or the trees or whatever.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But when it comes to the junk stuff, all the other States want to get rid of it, and let us send it to Utah as well since it is easier for the Federal Government to make designations in Nevada and Utah to store some of this waste. But I was only making an analogy. I wasn't trying to solicit your expert opinion on it.
But, you know, I have been dealing with nuclear issues now for the past several years. Thanks to President Chirac, you know, the great French government that many Americans did not realize they detonated almost 200 atomic bombs in these islands out there in Pacific, let alone the 66 detonations that we have done in the Marshall Islands; one specifically, a hydrogen bomb that was 1,000 more powerful than the bombs we dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
And surprisingly many people in America don't realize that this is what we have done. And yet we put a stop to it because we found that there was strontium 90 in milk products in Wisconsin and Minnesota. So I just want to share those concerns with you, but I do appreciate your testimonies.
I sincerely hope thatI certainly do take it in a constructive way and hopefully that we might find a resolution to this problem that has been gnawing at us now not only for the residents of Utah, but certainly for our Nation. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. Mr. Cannon.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to talk for a moment about the polls because I think they are relevant. The world should know that we love Valley Research, Inc., because they came out a couple weeks before my election and had me 20 points down, and that certainly motivated my supporters to get out and vote. Our internal polls were much different.
And let me just say that polling is a tricky thing. This is, as you all have said, a complicated issue and citing polls of people who don't understand the complications who like the term wilderness. I mean, we believe in conquering the wilderness, and then many of us believe in subduing it and having dominion over it. Polls don't do that when you use the naked term wilderness, and so I don't believe this an issue that ought to be driven by public opinion.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me also say that I deeply appreciate the way, Mr. Meadows, you have approached the discussion. We have differing views it is clear, but you have been measured and thoughtful. And let me say the same, Ms. Sease, that we probably have more clear distinctions with the Sierra Club in Utah.
Your proposals to drain Lake Powell or your organization's proposals to drain Lake Powell, and the attacks on sport utility vehicles I think are ill-founded and don't do much good for the environmental movement or the protectionist movement.
But, generally speaking, I think that, and especially in your testimony today, this has been very pleasing and that there has been a foundation I think from moving forward and working together. We look forward to do that.
I tend to look at language to try and figure out where people are coming from. And I think it has been very clear, Ms. McIntosh, that SUWA has been on the extreme polar edge of this debate. In looking through your testimonyin Mr. Meadows's testimony, he talked about not going ballistic, and that was about as rhetorical as that got, and that was saying we are not on the extreme I thought.
But as I look through your testimony, you talk about on the one hand you have got extreme words like cherishing the breathtaking wildlands. You talk about lyrical language in the Wilderness Act. On the other hand, my bill is deju vu all over again, and you refer to it as paltry and stingy and meager. And in another place you talk about vociferously opposing and exorbitant and astronomical, words that tend to be extreme.
And, you know, frankly, I don't understand where SUWA is coming from from a point of view of what they believe. I think that I could sit down and talk with Mr. Meadows, and we probably would come at least to a context for discussion. Can you give me a little bit of background about yourself personally? You know, you mentioned you were raised in the West. What part of the West, what your beliefs are, what your religion is possibly? An idea of where you derive your views from that you are representing here?
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. MCINTOSH. That is a difficult question to summarize in the time we have here. I am from Tucson, Arizona. I have always enjoyed being in the wilderness. I have always enjoyed observing wildlife, enjoying the quiet, the solitude. It has been a major influence in my life. It is something that I think is inherent in my character. I don't know if I can really explain any better than that.
With respect to my testimony, I think it is beneficial for everyone if we have a frank and honest discussion, and that is how I phrased my written statements and my verbal statements here today. It benefits you to know exactly how we feel about this.
Now, while I was very descriptive in my testimony, I think that we ought to sit down, and we ought to talk about this issue that you have raised in your bill, which I think is an important issue, and that is the exchange of trust lands. Let us do it. Let us see what the possibilities are.
Mr. CANNON. Well, certainly SUWA has done a great deal of inventorying of the State of Utah, I think more than perhaps anyone else. You have actually pushed for more than the 5.7 million acres not publicly yet, I know. In that process, do you think that you can identify 630,000 acres that we could talk about exchanging that would be available for development and commercialization?
Ms. MCINTOSH. Any acres that we have identified in our proposal?
Mr. CANNON. The question is could you identifybecause in your organization you have a huge body of expertise. Could you identify a large number of acres that you would be willing to say these are appropriate, not in the wilderness areas obviously, but in other areasthese are appropriate for development, for commercialization, for oil and gas and mining and those kind of things?
Ms. MCINTOSH. I think that we should try, but I think that your question assumes that all of the school trust lands are appropriate for the type of development you describe, and that is not an accurate statement of the character of the school trust lands.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As Mr. Harja mentioned, these weren't selected because they are particularly valuable. They are scattered through the State like buckshot. They are random sections, 4 out of every 36. So not all of them have mineral or oil and gas value. But I think that we could sit down and talk about where there would be exchanges of equivalent value, and I suggest again that we do that in the monument.
Mr. CANNON. I would like to pursue this a little bit in the next round of questioning. I see my time is gone, but I recognize that not all of the school trust lands have mining or oil and gas or other kinds of those commercial-type revenues. But there is a mandate to produce revenue off those lands, and there are many ways to do that. And development doesn't mean building condos. Obviously, the water situation doesn't support that.
So the question is, and I would appreciate it if you would consider for a moment, are there blocks of land or can SUWA within its organization come up with blocks of land that it could propose as consolidated trades for the scattered trust lands? My time has expired, but I will come back to that.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Schaffer.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am not a member of the subcommittee. I came just first to say that we in Colorado share an awful lot in common with Utah having a great amount of Federal involvement in ownership of public lands, as well as management of the public lands. And certainly the outcome of issues like this are of great concern to us, and we are very interested in them.
A couple questions that I had deal withI would like to ask all three of youwith respect to this Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and setting the 1.7 million acres in that project. Did your organization support or oppose the President in that particular designation?
Mr. MEADOWS. We very much supported the President in that designation, and we are very interested in working with BLM as it addresses the management options for that monument. So we are much committed to that.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SEASE. We also support the designation of the monument.
Ms. MCINTOSH. We also supported the designation of the monument, and we too look forward to working toward developing a good management plan for the monument.
Mr. SCHAFFER. The reason I asked that question is because I was impressed, frankly, with your comments about your desire to work with the Utah Delegation on the school lands issue. And the reason I asked about the monument was to really inquire into the depths of that sincerity.
This monument designation was not done with the support or even the consultation of the State of Utah, the Utah officials. It was announced in another State and I believe one of the most unfortunate examples of cowardice in the Administration in the way it went about that particular designation in an election year from another State and, again, with the total absence of any consideration for the values of the State of Utah.
Knowing now that you support that, I want to inquireor you supported that activity. I want to go a little further into your concern and your willingness to work on the school lands issue. Most western States have very similar arrangements with how they fund local schools.
The 2.1 million acres that Mr. Cannon proposes includes 140,000 acres of school trust lands, and this is the defining issue of the bill, I believe. You all said that you supported H.R. 1500, which has 5.7 million acres of wilderness and 630,000 acres of Utah school trust lands.
And, again, you expressed your desire to work with the Utah Delegation on the school lands issue. I am curious as to how you worked or to what extent you consulted the Utah Delegation before arriving at your decision to support H.R. 1500 and its treatment of the school lands issue? Any one of you jump right in.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MEADOWS. Let me make a couple of comments related to that. First of all, I think we really are sincere in working on the opportunities for exchange. As many of you know, Conoco Oil Company is now inside the monument on State lands preparing to drill exploratory wells.
They have asked for permission to do the same on Federal lands. The Bureau of Land Management issued an environmental assessment. We suspect that Conoco will move ahead, that BLM will grant that, and Conoco will move ahead and do that drilling sometime this summer.
We have been in discussionall three of our organizations have been in discussion with Conoco and with BLM trying to work through a way in which we might be able to do a land exchange. The question becomes value for value. It is a very difficult issue, and it is not one that anyone is necessarily experienced enough or has enough information or data about the place in order to make those kinds of judgments, and that is what makes it difficult.
I would offer that we are dealing with different acreages and different values for each of those sections, in fact. It isn't as if we have to find similar acreage. What we are trying to find is similar value. So if we can find similar value within the State of Utah and publicly owned lands for the trade of the 600,000 school trust land acreage, then we would work to do that. It doesn't necessarily mean it has to be 600,000 acres.
I would also go on to say that our organizations have really focused our understanding of the land on what is inside the monument and what is inside the wilderness areas that we have researched. We are not as familiar, I suspect, with those areas outside the monument or outside the wilderness areas. So we don't have the expertise of all the lands in Utah but would be eager to pursue that.
Mr. SCHAFFER. On the school land issue, which officials in Utah have you dealt with to arrive at the decision that you made to work with the officials in Utah? On the school lands issue which ones or which individuals in the Staterepresenting the State did you work with before you came to the conclusion to support H.R. 1500?
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MEADOWS. Well, I have to admit that I came to The Wilderness Society on December the 1st of 1996 so this decision had already been made. I applauded it from a distance, but I have not talked with any official within the State of Utah about that particular issue.
Ms. SEASE. Congressman Schaffer, the Sierra Club I think has a long history of working in a number of States with both the equivalent of the State school trust and with the delegation to craft workable solutions to exchanges and wilderness proposals.
I can certainly recallin fact, I just sent off to our archives two file drawers full of materials on a project in Utah that was referred to as Project Bold. The fact that that did not come to a successful resolution doesn't mean that we didn't try to work cooperatively.
Most of the bills that have had a successful resolution on the State school trust were not introduced with that exact language initially. It was derived as one headed into the closing years of negotiation over the bills.
Mr. SCHAFFER. Any elected officials that you can name that you worked with or cooperated with in a similar sort of way on this bill?
Ms. SEASE. On this particular bill
Mr. SCHAFFER. H.R. 1500 I mean.
Ms. SEASE. On H.R. 1500, if you will look at it, it does not have a detail section on State school trust lands.
Mr. SCHAFFER. It ignores it is my point.
Ms. SEASE. And I think that if that language were to be developed, certainly it would be appropriate for the sponsor of the bill and for supporters of the bill to work very closely with folks in Utah on that issue.
Mr. HANSEN. The time of the gentlemanpossibly, you asked a kind of a tantalizing question about the monument in Utah. You can well imagine yesterday there was a lawsuit filed by the counties and the school trust, and we have done a lot of work on that. We have had a hearinga very exhaustive hearing on it. We were also askedwe were going to subpoena the information that was between the White House and the Interior Department.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think little by little most of the environmental communities are coming to the same conclusion that they did, the 1906 Antiquity Law doesn't offer anywhere near the protection of the 1964 Wilderness Act, NEPA, and the 1976 FLPMA Act. In fact, in the statement between Kathleen McGinty and Secretary Babbitt, he states that.
They didn't bring that out, of course, and, therefore, to a certain extent in both these bills that are being offered today, they both have rather large chunks in the area that is now the monument. You can ask the question did the effort of the President extinguish the WSAs? Possibly; possibly not. But we will find that out I am sure maybe a judicial question. I would argue that it would.
Anyway, I think somebody really fouled up on it as far as protecting an area as they surely didn't do it. They had better protection under FLPMA than they ever got under this monument. And that seems to be from every legal opinion we can get. That seems to be the premise. I am not faulting anybody for doing it. The President has that right.
I do think though that the Act has well outlived its usefulness. It was there and at the time there was no way to protect the Grand Canyon and Zions and all those beautiful areas. Anyway, I think that someone shot themselves in the foot on that one if I may say so. And now we are findingwe are getting letters daily on that. Maybe you have gone through that too in Colorado, but I say that as Chairman of the Committee.
I just want to thank you folks. We had excellent testimony from all three of you; appreciate it very much. Now, let me add that you are welcome in my office anytime. We are more than happy to talk to you. Contrary to popular belief, there isn't any ''them and us'' around here.
And we gain a lot from you folks, and so long as we keep it civil, we are more than happy to talk to any folks. And, Mr. Meadows, congratulations on your position now. I didn't realize it had been so short. I hope that works out well for you.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MEADOWS. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. And with that, we thank you all, all who have been here, and we will conclude this hearing with me banging the gavel because there is another one that is going to start in a little while in here.
[Whereupon, at 1 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
[Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF LOUISE LISTON, COUNTY COMMISSIONER, GARFIELD COUNTY, UTAH
On behalf of the people of Garfield County, I wish to express my gratitude to Chairman Hansen for his longstanding leadership on the wilderness issue in Utah and for holding yet another hearing on this issue in his subcommittee today. I would also feel remiss if I did not thank Congressman Cannon for fulfilling the promises he made to the people of Utah that his first order of business as a Congressman would be to act to redress our grievances due to the September 18, 1996 Presidential executive order creating the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Congressman Cannon has proved to be a tireless worker on the Monument issue and with the introduction of S. 1952, he now puts before the Congress of the United States legislation which the people of rural Utah canon the wholelive with. It is refreshing to have someone represent us who does not simply complain, but keeps their promises by actingThank you for getting off to a good start as our 3rd District Congressman.
Mr. Chairman, let me say this about BLM wilderness. We the people of southern Utah are tired of it. We want the issue resolved. But, we are not now, nor will we ever be willing to agree to legislation that destroys our livelihood, simply because we are tired of the conflict. All of the issues: BLM wilderness, the new National Monument, RS 2477 roads, state school trust lands, actual development of coal, oil, gas and other mineral reserves on public lands; all of these issues must be taken into account and resolved equitably before we will consider the controversy settled. We have always been willing to participate in the public process and have played by the rules. We regret that the President of the United States and his Secretary of the Interior have not. To now consider adding millions of new acres of BLM wilderness in our counties without taking all of these issues into account would be unconscionable for us.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Without beating around the bush, we hear that some would like to use this 2.1 million acre wilderness bill as a starting point and split the difference with advocates of H.R. 1500 at around 3.2 million acres. We hear that because some are tired of dealing with the issue, a 3.2 million acre bill sounds appealing because it would placate environmental groups, who view the legal 3.2 million WSA limit as their bottom line. The fact is, Mr. Chairman, Secretary Babbitt is illegally managing BLM lands in Utah now as de facto 5.7 million acres, not the legal limit of 3.2 million acres. It may be politically expedient to cut a deal at 3.2 million acres, but on the land, where we live, that amount of wilderness, on top of the restrictions imposed by the creation of a 1.7 million acre national Monument, on top of the restrictions imposed on us by four adversarial lawsuits over RS 2477 rights-of-way, will effectively place us into a permanent position of servitude.
Rural Utahns are aware that only about 1 million acres of land in the state qualify for wilderness under the definition of the 1964 Act. We have agreed to double that amount for political reasons. If Congress chooses to raise the acreage total to 3.2 million acres or higher and ignores the 1964 Wilderness Act criteria entirely, then it is time to amend the Wilderness Act to conform to reality. If not, then Congress should adhere to the laws it passes and be intellectually honest with the American people. Please don't ask us to call something wilderness that does not fit the criteria. If members of this committee are going to change the rules, then I recommend the Congress consider first changing the 1964 law.
Look at reality one more time. Sixty seven percent of Utah is federally owned. The lands being managed as wilderness study areas now constitute over 20 percent of the Federal lands in the State. Existing Forest Service & BLM wilderness constitutes another 5 percent of Federal lands. The National Park Service Controls another 7 percent of the Federal lands, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (absent the 350,000 BLM WSA acres) constitutes another 8 percent of the Federal land. All told 40 percent of the Federal lands in Utah, not including Indian Reservations and military restricted areas are effectively off limits to multiple uses. Said another way, less than half of the lands in Federal ownership are classified as multiple use lands and available for economic development. An additional 13 percent of the lands in Utah are state school trust lands. I will talk more about them in a minute, but please understand these school trust lands are restricted to whatever use is deemed appropriate by the surrounding Federal land manager. Unless these lands are blocked-up so they can be developed, they are worthless to the state school trust and can not generate revenue of any kind.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So let me conclude by saying Garfield county supports Congressman Cannon's bill as the one which comes closest to portraying things the way they actually are on the land. It contains more wilderness than the 1964 Act definition allows, but we believe we can survive under its terms.
Just as important, the Cannon bill takes a significant step toward resolving the age-old impasse over Federal-state land exchanges by allowing the trustees for the school system in Utah to select unappropriated Federal lands within 2 years of enactment and requires that the school trust provisions of the bill must occur before any wilderness designations can take place. H.R. 1500, Mr. Hinchey's bill, as in years past, fails to address these critical issues.
While I am hopeful enactment of Congressman Cannon's bill means educational interests in Utah may finally receive the attention they deserve and actual exchanges take place, let me point out something many Members of Congress and many environmental groups absolutely do not want to hear. That is, in order for any Federal-state land exchange to mean anything, school trust lands have to be exploited, developed. Some courageous company or companies must invest capital in a coal-mining project, and oil drilling operation and actually develop the resource in order for any money to go to the school children of Utah. Let me say that another way. It is the royalties paid as result of natural resource extraction, which will fill the coffers of the state school trust.
As of today, June 24, 1997, less than 1 percent of the state school budget in Utah is derived from such development. Utah spends a higher percentage of its state budget (80 percent) on education than any other state. At the same time, Utah is dead last, fiftieth in per capita spending on educationin large part, because it can not tax its people any more without driving individuals and industry out of the state. If state school trust lands could begin to contribute in a meaningful way, perhaps Utah could spend more on students, pay its teachers better salaries, or even lower its already high taxes. For that to happen, development must occur on state lands.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For those environmentalists who are now going ballistic, please know that all the applicable environmental laws governing development on public lands: NEPA, FLPMA, SMCRA, ESA, CWA, CAAall of them still apply. If the objective of each of these Acts is to simply stop all development however, then this legislation can call for unlimited land exchanges and in lieu selections and the outcome would still be meaningless. The parties must act in good faith and allow natural resource development to occur somewhere in Utah.
If I have been blunt in my testimony then, Mr. Chairman, I plead guilty. This is the way things really are. You know it and I know it. What we seem to be dealing with in the Utah wilderness debate is an endless parade of dancing around the truth, and I for one, am tired of it. I stand ready to help you pass this legislation in any way that I can. Thank you.
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