Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says federal land managers too often don't really listen to local officials when they make land plans.
So he introduced a bill Tuesday designed to make them pay a bit more attention.The bill would modify the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by redefining some terms to make it clear that federal agencies must listen and work with such local governments as county commissions and special service districts.
Hatch said he has seen a couple of instances where such agencies develop their own plans without trying to resolve concerns of residents - which creates animosity.
"Utah's Washington County is a good example," he said. "The (U.S.) Bureau of Land Management wants to incorporate alternatives to the Dixie Resource Management Plan for Washington County, the majority of which are in substantial conflict with the needs identified by residents."
Hatch added, "There are too many important issues in this area not to have local input in the federal planning process. Too often local interests and concerns are being paid lip service or being ignored altogether."
Hatch said his changes would not give any sort of veto power to local agencies but merely ensure that federal agencies listen to their concerns and coordinate plans with them as they develop.
"An overwhelming majority of Utah's land, 70.2 percent, is managed by the federal government," Hatch said. "My bill will help the federal side to listen better to the local side."