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Arizona Rejects Sovereignty Proposal, Battle Over Federally-Owned Lands Continues Across West

November 09, 2012
Arizona Rejects Sovereignty Proposal, Battle Over Federally-Owned Lands Continues Across West - 3

A couple of weeks back, I posted an Open Country blog about a ballot proposal in Arizona that would have amended the state's constitution to declare Arizona's sovereignty over the "air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state's boundaries" and lay claim to federally-owned lands in the state.

Why? Proponents of the measure claim that the federal government is not properly managing the lands and that publicly-owned federal lands are a burden to the state. Opponents, of course, were concerned that state control of such lands, which included the Grand Canyon, would mean rampant development, mining and timbering. There was even talk of selling off some of the lands.

None of which will happen. The measure was soundly defeated by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

Arizona’s recent ballot measure is just the latest in a series of skirmishes over federal lands in the West where guys like Wayne Hage are local legends of the “sagebrush rebellion” against federal control of public lands.

Attempts by states to seize control of federal lands will continue to be a topic of debate as well. Utah passed a bill earlier this year that requires federal authorities to transfer ownership of public lands back to the state by Dec. 31, 2014.

That bill will likely be the topic of future Open Country posts and will certainly be a topic of discussion for the U.S. Supreme Court as it tries to determine the constitutionality of such laws. The outcome could determine the long-term future of federally-owned public lands across the nation.

The battle for the Grand Canyon is over – for now. The war, however, is just beginning.

Comments (3)

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from tacoshmitty wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Dcast- You forget that the federal government did use to own everything. States were given differing sections (usually 2 sections per township as school trust lands) and various disposal bills such as the Homestead Act further partitioned land into private hands. Forest Reserves were set aside by various presidents along with National Parks etc. As Roderick noted, the states never owned these lands.

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from Dcast wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Roderick, If thats the case the federal government would have control over everything.You have to remember the federal government is compiled by elected representatives of each state not V of V.

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from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Odd choice of words: "Utah passed a bill earlier this year that requires federal authorities to transfer ownership of public lands back to the state by Dec. 31, 2014." BACK to the state? Uh, these lands were federal domain before Utah was a state. These Utah land grabbers are trying to get something that never belonged to them, but has long belonged to all Americans. These are grown children, stomping their feet and saying "mine! mine! mine!"

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from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Odd choice of words: "Utah passed a bill earlier this year that requires federal authorities to transfer ownership of public lands back to the state by Dec. 31, 2014." BACK to the state? Uh, these lands were federal domain before Utah was a state. These Utah land grabbers are trying to get something that never belonged to them, but has long belonged to all Americans. These are grown children, stomping their feet and saying "mine! mine! mine!"

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from Dcast wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Roderick, If thats the case the federal government would have control over everything.You have to remember the federal government is compiled by elected representatives of each state not V of V.

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from tacoshmitty wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Dcast- You forget that the federal government did use to own everything. States were given differing sections (usually 2 sections per township as school trust lands) and various disposal bills such as the Homestead Act further partitioned land into private hands. Forest Reserves were set aside by various presidents along with National Parks etc. As Roderick noted, the states never owned these lands.

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