These are counties that have openly stated their desires to emulate Moab’s tourism success, counties that are suffering the effects of too much resource extraction on their own visitor numbers. Making better decisions for Grand County will begin when we stop this resource extraction mania and exercise the land stewardship that the gems of our public lands deserve.
There are over 200 businesses in Moab, and based on tax receipts they appear to be doing quite well. They generate $200 MILLION to $300 MILLION a year that is used to pay employees who buy goods and services, who pay sales and property taxes, who hire doctors and lawyers and contractors, and who play important roles as volunteers in the community. And most of these business millions are generated from visitors to our amazing public lands.
Compare that to the $2 million or $3 million in mineral lease money that will be generated over the next several years from wells in areas already leased. Will these visitors keep coming if we develop every corner of our county, if we can boast the same ozone levels and infrastructure problems that our oil and gas neighbors do?
In essence, the county council is making decisions to jeopardize hundreds of millions in current business revenues in trade for a few million from resource extraction. We can make our county budget goals with the currently leased lands.
It is time to protect the lands that drive the rest of our economy and the Master Leasing Plan is the right tool to do that. It is time for Grand County to set the example for eastern Utah that unbridled resource extraction is not good for anyone.
Grand County Council member, 1999-2002