Ownership and Control of Public Lands
The ownership and control of the nation’s public land, especially in the western United States,
has been debated for many years. That debate has grown more intense since 2012 when the
Utah legislature passed the Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study (TPLA), which
demanded that most of the public land within Utah’s borders be transferred to the state.
Based on an analysis of national constitutional law, the Office of Legislative Research and
General Counsel (LRGC), a nonpartisan agency serving the Utah Legislature, advised the
legislature that any attempt to enforce the TPLA ran a “high probability of being declared
unconstitutional.” Despite that advice, the legislature passed the act, and the governor signed it.
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