Like his fellow Utah land-grabber Rob Bishop, 2016 was not kind to Utah state legislator and American Lands Council co-founder Ken Ivory. His $14 million taxpayer funded fantasy land-grab lawsuit has been resoundingly criticized, the organization he founded to push his land transfer agenda is hemorrhaging memberships, and the apparent Interior Secretary under President Trump is no friend to his extreme agenda.
Counties are Abandoning Ivory’s American Lands Council
In October, High Country News reported on our investigation into the steep decline in the number of cash-strapped counties who use taxpayer money to pay for “memberships” to the American Lands Council. The decline amounts to a 45% decline in county memberships to ALC, the land-transfer group that paid its co-founder Ken Ivory a whopping $135,000 a year.
The Ken Ivory Land-Grab Efforts
Ken Ivory has spearheaded the efforts in Utah to sue the federal government to force a turnover of public lands. The effort, which is funded by $14 million in taxpayer money, hit serious snags in 2016. The bi-partisan Conference of Western Attorneys General issued a report in October found that the legal claims raised by Utah are weak at best and stand little to no chance of succeeding in the courts. The report was convincing enough for the Salt Lake Tribune to editorialize that “Utah should take [this] opportunity to drop [the] land suit.”
Conservatives in Wyoming essentially echoed those findings in their own report commissioned by the Wyoming Legislature, it urged locals to sincerely participate in the numerous public engagement processes that already exist. “The disconnect between the federal agencies and local communities needs to be addressed in a collaborative manner,” reads its conclusion, rather than a forced takeover. In December, Wyoming Governor Matt Meade raised concerns with such efforts, saying that Wyoming (like all western states) doesn’t have the money to manage federal public lands within its borders. “Back to 2012,” he said, “we spent as a state $45 million fighting fires… If the federal lands that had fires on them would have been state lands, we would have spent another $45 million – in one summer. That’s a significant amount.”
Trump Picks Land Transfer Opponent for Interior Secretary
In a blow to Ivory’s land-grab agenda, President-elect Trump has nominated Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of the Interior, a post which oversees millions of acres of public land. While Zinke has far too cozy a relationship with big oil interests, he has on more than one occasion voted against selling public lands. “I’m starting to wonder how many times I have to tell these guys in leadership I’m not going to allow Montana’s public lands to be sold or given away,” he said in a June press release.