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Lawsuit over control of federal lands may be filed in 2017

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SALT LAKE CITY — A lawsuit challenging the federal government for control of public lands in Utah may be filed by the first of next year, a state lawmaker says.

That’s if the lawsuit is filed.

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, updated his House Republican colleagues on the threatened lawsuit on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters afterward, he said they were waiting on what will happen with the U.S. Supreme Court, the presidential election, and whether a new national monument will be designated in Utah.

Stratton said ongoing negotiations with the federal government on public lands may also prove fruitful, making a lawsuit unnecessary.

“We’re not trying to further a lawsuit. We’re trying to further a resolution that makes sense for everybody involved,” he said.

The Utah State Legislature has voted to fund up to $14 million for litigation over public lands. Opponents of the move say Utah would likely lose the lawsuit against the federal government. The legislature funded outside counsel to help make a case for the lawsuit, but the decision ultimately rests with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

His office has said no decision has been made yet on whether to pursue the lawsuit.