Peay wanted to point out a particular parcel of public land that used to be overrun by highly invasive cheat grass. Several years ago, he worked with local land managers to revegetate it with native plants favored by deer and elk.
“We’re proud of what we’ve done here,” Peay said. “It shows that local people know the land better than bureaucrats from Washington or tourists from California.”
“Doesn’t it belong to all of us?” I asked, noting that the land we stood upon was managed by the federal government, in trust for the American people.
His answer was unexpected.
“Yeah,” he replied. “But it belongs more to me than it does to you.”
Peay is Mormon and his striking claims regarding public land have a long history in Utah. Under Trump, these claims are being taken seriously. Peay believes this helps explain high Mormon approval levels for the president despite the Stormy Daniels affair and other scandals that might be thought shocking to a conservative religious conscience.