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Take Back Utah to rally at Capital on Saturday

The Take Back Utah event Saturday will take control of State Street in downtown Salt Lake City for seven blocks as a parade of big trucks, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles, other motorized vehicles and pedestrians make their way from 500 South to the State Capitol.

Organized to spotlight the benefits of promoting a "multiuse" public lands policy, the Take Back Utah parade and rally is a backlash of protest over what organizers say are intrusive federal regulations and radical environmentalists who hold too much of the state hostage.

"The 10th Amendment is alive and well," said Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab. "The federal government should not be so involved in the running of our state, should not have as much impact as it does in what is going on in Utah. That control rightfully belongs to the public policymakers in this state, not the bureaucracy of the federal government."

Staging for the 10:30 a.m. parade begins as early as 5 a.m., and multiple supporting organizations have signed on, including the Utah Trail Machine Association, Canyon Country 4x4 Club and the Utah Shared Access Alliance.

"There is nothing more American, nothing more important than exercising the ability to gather peaceably, to promote freedom of speech. This is Constitution 101," said Mike Swenson, the alliance's executive director and Take Back Utah event chairman.

The grass-roots movement that formed earlier this year in protest over environmental protests and in reaction to federal land-use policies is pulling out the big guns for a 12:30 p.m. rally at the Capitol.

Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, both R-Utah, will briefly speak, as will Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah — and all three asked to participate, rather than being recruited, Swenson said.

"We didn't call them. We didn't invite them. They called us and asked if they could come. We've already achieved success with that alone and made a difference," Swenson said.

Additional speakers include Richard Mack, a former Provo police officer elected the Graham County sheriff in Arizona. Mack sued the federal government over the Brady gun control bill, and won, on a states' rights issue.

The rally also features performances by David Osmond and Angela Winston, as well as a 90-minute "thank you" concert by the country western group Due West.

Swenson said the Take Back Utah movement is not about tearing up the land, drilling anywhere and everywhere, but rather the promotion of responsible development of resources.

"This is not a bunch of rednecks but everyday citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights," he said. "You can't paint access to public land with a narrow brush. Access means different things to different people."

The movement has drawn the support of a variety of groups, including the Utah Cattlemen's Association, the Utah Farm Bureau, and the Utah Shooting Sports Council, which sent out a call this week to its members, urging participation.

Noel, who is also one of the featured speakers, said the rally is meant to emphasize that every day Americans are getting tired of being told what can and cannot happen on land that should have shared access.

"I think the vast majority of people, not just in Utah but throughout this country, believe you can develop natural resources in an environmentally responsible manner without putting everything off limits," Noel said, adding that public lands should be multiuse, not relegated to "single" use.

"We are right and those single-use people, the ones I call selfish elitists, are wrong."

For more information about the parade and rally, go to www.takebackutah.org

e-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com