The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Yetta Stein, Communications Associate

Western Values Project

(406) 529-1682

Utah: Tax Dollars Fund Anti-Public Lands Group, Research Released Highlighting Influence Focuses on Monied Influence on Western State Public Lands and Policy

Helena, MT.

With the start of Utah's state legislative session kicking into gear, Western Values Project (WVP)--an Accountable.US project based in Montana, defending America's public lands--is making public their in-depth research concerning special interest monied influence on Utah's and other Western states' public lands and natural resources available on their MoneyTrails website.

"One of Utah's most insidious groups, the Foundation for Integrated Resource Management (FIRM), is burning through taxpayer dollars while espousing a dangerous anti-public lands agenda. The front group opposed designating Bears Ears National Monument and was poised to file suit until President Trump illegally reduced its boundaries. Simply put, they shouldn't be trusted nor sucking up tax dollars given their mission to sell off our Western way of life," said Jayson O'Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project. "With special interest influence relentlessly trying to upend public lands protections, MoneyTrails is a resource for the public, as well as decision-makers, in our continued fight to keep public lands in public hands by exposing front groups seeking to undermine our outdoor heritage for their narrow interests."

The Foundation for Integrated Resource Management (FIRM) was supposedly created to localize public lands into the hands of the state -- an insidious idea heard as a dog whistle to public lands users and advocates alike because it is a precursor to the sale and privatization of public lands.

However, while FIRM claims to be dedicated to fighting for "reasonable access to public lands," the group has conspicuously become a leach on taxpayer wallets. The group receives over 90% of its funding from taxpayers. In turn, FIRM has plans to litigate against the federal government on behalf of Utah, specifically around issues tied to public lands management. But the group instead just seems to reap major profits, continually asking for more money, without any tangible advancement of their radical agenda.

Though their action is mute, their rhetoric remains dangerous. FIRM is strongly opposed to national monuments and planned to file a lawsuit over the creation of Bears Ears National Monument. The group went as far as to support naming a Utah highway after Pres. Trump to thank him for illegally reducing the national monuments. Read the Foundation for Integrated Resource Management report here.

Public lands are a critical part of Utah's tax base, recreation economy, and employment rate, supporting 110,000 jobs, generating $12.3 billion in consumer spending and $737 million in state and local tax revenue.

MoneyTrails highlights research on three special interest groups operating within Utah and a multi-state group also trying to influence public lands policy in the Beehive State. Look for more reports as the Utah legislative session continues.

MoneyTrails was created by WVP to document the influence that special interest groups, industry executives, and anti-public lands front groups exert on public lands issues throughout the West. The taxpaying public deserves to know how these monied groups are attempting to affect public lands decisions to benefit corporations and special interests and MoneyTrails is a resource intended to shed light on these critical issues.

Western Values Project brings accountability to the national conversation about Western public lands and national parks conservation - a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government.