The bill is written in such a way that may seem as though they are protecting a lot, when in fact, they are verifiably reducing protections. Specifically, the bill rolls back protection for over 30,000 acres of BLM land now managed to protect wilderness values. As important, the bill completely disregards 900,000 acres of wilderness lands in the region, such as the rock art rich region at the western end of the Swell known as the San Rafael Badlands, leaving them open to exploitation. Finally, it slices up the wilderness it does designate with excessive roads.
My husband and I have first-hand experience in the wondrous lands of the San Rafael Swell, now doomed should this fake wilderness bill get passed. I recall treasured visits to rock art panels and ancient dwelling sites, now threatened by potential oil and gas drilling. If Hatch and Curtis have their way, they will be lost.
It is notably heinous that this Hatch-Curtis bill was written and introduced in isolation. There had been no real chance for input from citizens of Utah outside of Emery County, from tribe members with cultural ties to this area, nor from other citizens of this country who are rightful co-owners of these public lands.
Don’t let dishonest politicians wreck the San Rafael Swell.
—Margie Lopez Read