The Bureau of Land Management owns 43 percent of all land in Utah. But Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, wants to drop that percentage - maybe to zero.

Hansen, chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Lands, told regional reporters this past Friday that Republicans will likely introduce a bill soon to begin turning over at least some BLM lands to willing states.He said it is only one of many changes Republicans are considering about public lands - including revising the Endangered Species Act, allowing no more national parks (and maybe transferring some to other agencies) and abolishing some Interior Department agencies.

"Things happened last Nov. 8. I mean it's a whole new ball game. Things that were unheard of are happening every day now," Hansen said.

That includes seriously considering giving BLM land, and maybe even some from the Forest Service, back to the states.

"With the governors coming on and saying they can control it better, I think . . . there probably will be a bill for deeding some of that property to the states, maybe not all of it - maybe some on an experimental basis," Hansen said.

He adds that revenues from grazing fees, mineral leases and timber sales - and maybe even sales of some land - could not only generate enough revenues to adequately manage those lands, but also generate money for schools.

"If I were governor of the state of Utah, I would be salivating at the mouth because then I would get the royalty on trees, I would get the mineral funds, I could determine how many cows could be put on the ground," Hansen said.

"If you could get your hands on some of that federal ground, there'd be multimillions of dollarsgoing into state coffers - and you wouldn't have to tax your citizens to death."

Hansen said the land turnover would have to be optional because some states have no interest in it - and others want it greatly.

Hansen said that in a way, the land turnover would also end some unfunded mandates. He said state and local governments often have to provide services on vast federal lands but receive relatively little money to pay for it.

Hansen said he would also envision relatively few restrictions on land that is transferred - maybe only such things as requiring that land that is now wilderness remain as wilderness.

About national parks, Hansen vowed that as long as he is chairman of his subcommittee, "I will be death on putting new parks through my committee - unless we can pay for them."

He complained that Congress continues to create new parks without also giving the park system more money. He said that is causing a serious maintenance backlog.

"I'd love to have more parks. I'm just saying: what can we afford? Living within your income isn't very popular here," he said.

Hansen again gave qualified support to the idea of a commission - similar to the military base closure commission - that would look at ways to increase park revenues and maybe transfer some minor parks to other agencies to allow better funding of more major parks.

"I'm not for closing parks. That's like spitting on the flag," he said, but he added that something must be done to prevent their deterioration.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt earlier this week attacked the park closure commission idea, saying, "We need more parks, not fewer."

Babbitt also increased funding for the National Biological Survey - but Hansen said many Western Republicans are aiming to kill it. Many view that agency as looking for ways to tie up development by identifying obscure species that may be threatened.

"If I owned it, I would put it in my wife's name," Hansen said. "I think someone's going to foreclose on it."

Hansen added that Republicans have formed task forces to look at changes in the Endangered Species Act, wilderness laws and other environmental laws to see if some reform could make it easier on local economies without gutting the core of the bills.