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Johnson: Stop talking and take feds to court

Johnson: Stop talking and go to court

(KUTV) -- Utah legislators have been threatening to sue the federal government to gain control of public lands for the past five years, but haven't done it yet.

If elected, gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson says he will file that suit.

"I think it's time for the state to be aggressive, " Johnson said. "We have 31 million acres we don't own, we can't make productive. We need to make our state lands productive to help us pay for schools."

Financial restraints are one reason the public land lawsuit hasn't moved forward. Officials estimate it would cost $14 million dollars in legal fees.

"I say what is the price of freedom," Johnson rebutted.

Governor Gary Herbert has not ruled out a suit, but he favors a grand bargain on federal land in congress.

Democratic candidates for governor remain skeptical.

Like Herbert, Vaughn Cook favors strong negotiations. Mike Weinholtz calls the whole thing a waste of money.

The state's lawyers say the chances of winning the lawsuit would be small.

Johnson insists the suit is winnable.

He says he will file it within one year of his election and is considering hiring an outside law firm to handle the case.

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