SALT LAKE CITY, UT— The Western Values Project, an organization that seeks to give voice to Western values in the national conversation about public lands, launched a new campaign to hold accountable the backers of the divisive movement to seize and sell public land with a full-page ad in the Salt Lake Tribune and a demonstration in the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol today. Just steps away, the initial target of the campaign, Utah State Representative Ken Ivory’s colleagues participated in a hearing of the Utah Commission on the Stewardship of Public Lands, where they debated a costly lawsuit to force the seizure of lands by the state of Utah.
The centerpiece of Western Values Project’s campaign launch featured a live and in the flesh “snake oil salesman” at the Utah State Capitol’s Rotunda. The snake oil salesman peddled “Doctors Bishop and Ivory’s Sensational Land Grab Cure-All,” named in honor of Rep. Ivory, as well as Congressman Rob Bishop, both key figures in the land grab movement. “Drs. Bishop and Ivory’s Sensational Land Grab Cure-All,” prop bottles wrapped with information about Ivory and Bishop’s agenda, were distributed to lawmakers and citizens attending the hearing as a way to satirize the destructive policies being discussed by the Commission and focus public attention to what is at stake. Utahans interested in the “snake oil” can learn more at landgrabcureall.com
“Congressman Bishop and Rep. Ivory represent two sides of the same counterfeit coin. Rep. Ivory is spearheading the land grab movement in the states and Congressman Bishop is leading the charge in Washington,” said Chris Saeger, Director of the Western Values Project. “Just like snake oil, their land grab cure-all is sold with the false promise that letting states seize lands would provide miraculous benefits. In reality, transferring lands to the states would harm the multi-billion dollar outdoor economy and public access to land for hunting, fishing, and recreation.”
In addition to his role as Commissioner, Rep. Ivory is also the founder of the American Lands Council, an organization that zealously advocates for transferring federal lands to the states. Wearing multiple hats, Rep. Ivory has helped lead efforts in Utah to redirect over $14 million of state tax revenue to mostly out-of-state lawyers who plan on lodging what amounts to a constitutional Hail Mary that is destined to fail. The proposed legal plan to transfer federal public lands to Utah relies on the United States Supreme Court throwing out over 200 years of constitutional precedent and amounts to what experts have described as a strategy that is “dead in the legal waters” and that doesn’t “hold up to the most cursory of legal arguments.”
Over the next year, Western Values Project will spotlight Rep. Ken Ivory’s misguided efforts at the state level and Congressman Rob Bishop’s policies at the federal level, as well as other key leaders and institutions in the land grab movement.
Western Values Project is a non-partisan non-profit focused on holding elected officials accountable by educating taxpayers about balanced development of western lands.