If I’m Part of the Public…Can I Build On Public Land?
71 percent of the state of Utah is public land. If you have looked at a map or seen the signs, you know there are large parts of the desert designated and managed by government agencies as public. Some of them are state regulated and others on the national level.
As a citizen of Utah, I am a part of the public, and if it is the public’s land, can I build something on it? Maybe I could build a nice cabin on my portion?
The surprising answer is, yes.
Now before you head to Home Depot for a truck full of 2x4’s, it isn’t that easy. The land is to be managed in the public interest. On the Utah Government website it says: “These lands and their resources cannot be separated from the cultural fabric, quality of life, historic uses, and economic well-being of the state of Utah.”
The agencies who manage the land work with different industries including: “recreation and tourism, oil and gas, renewable energy, agriculture, mining, and timber industries.” In other words, these lands are not just walled off for lizards to crawl around in, they are to be used by residents of the state.
As one of these industries using public lands, you may need to build a building, make a road, or put in power lines, and there is a process to get approval to do so. After submitting your proposal, it goes through a committee and if they approve it, you can build it. Start hammering those 2x4’s.
I didn’t realize how public lands are viewed by the agencies that regulate them, and how they are trying to provide the best outcome for the public. I have also begun the process of submitting my plans for a cabin on Mount Trumbull.