Utah Republicans Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Celeste Maloy introduced a bill last week that would transfer the ownership of parcels of federal land to the state at no cost.

“Utahns don’t sit back and let Washington tell us how to manage the land we’ve lived on for over a century,” said Lee, according to a Wednesday press release.

The federal parcels in question include land around six areas inside Antelope Island State Park, which is northwest of Salt Lake City and is known for its scenery of the Great Salt Lake, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Another parcel sits adjacent to Fremont State Park in central Utah. It also offers recreational activities and has an attached artifact museum.

Several parcels of federal land are located inside and beside the Wasatch Mountain State Park, southeast of SLC. This park is open for hiking as well as skiing and snowshoeing.

“By transferring federally owned land to Utah for inclusion in our state parks, we ensure efficient management while removing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles,” said Lee, who originally proposed the Utah State Parks Adjustment Act in June 2023. He added he was grateful to Maloy for introducing companion legislation in the House.

Maloy, who represents Utah’s 2nd District, said Utah state parks are “well-managed and cared for.”

“I’m proud to sponsor this bill alongside Sen. Lee, which would remove ineffective bureaucratic management over these small parcels of land and return them to local control,” said Maloy, per a press release.

In July 2023, Lee in his opening statement to the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee, said Utah is known for its national parks.

“We’re less well known for our state parks which are well-managed, well-staffed, well cared for and really beautiful places,” he said, adding that these state parks boost recreational tourism and economic growth.

“However, the presence of federal enclaves and fragmented ownership exacerbated by the fact that the federal government owns two-thirds of the land in Utah tends to create unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and land management inefficiencies that complicate all sorts of endeavors including the management of state parks,” he said.

During the same hearing, Thomas Heinlein, the assistant director for the National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships under the Bureau of Land Management, said his agency supports the bill.

Heinlein said the federal areas around these parks are “inherently difficult to manage by the BLM due to location, small size, and lack of access.”

“The BLM regularly transfers public lands to local governments and nonprofits for a variety of reasons,” the official added.