Should States and Localities Exert More Control Over Federal Land?

VAIL, Colo. — State and local governments need to be increasingly assertive in the growing battle over how federal public lands are managed in the West, according to lawmakers at a recent conference in this ski town literally surrounded by U.S. Forest Service land.

More than 300 state legislators from 13 western states gathered for the Council of State Governments West annual meeting last week, and one of the hottest topics was state and federal government relations at a policy meeting of the newly formed CSG West committee.

In Colorado, more than 36 percent of the state is owned by the federal government and managed under a longstanding multiple-use policy that allows for everything from outdoor recreation such as ski areas to timber harvesting to cattle grazing, mining and oil and gas drilling.

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