As someone who has worn down some shoes walking miles through the San Rafael Swell, I am deeply frustrated by the content of and process for the Emery County Public Lands Management Act. At a hearing last week, Representative Curtis described the bill as bringing together stakeholders and “a win for everybody.” Why then does no environmental group based in Utah support the bill?
It is because people who know the land realize the bill designates no new wilderness beyond that already protected as wilderness study areas or natural areas, leaving two-thirds of deserving wild lands undesignated.
It is because the bill ensures that almost a thousand miles of motorized routes through a purported “National Conservation Area” will remain open in perpetuity despite a court settlement requiring the routes be re-assessed for unacceptable impacts to cultural artifacts, natural quiet and other values.
Senator Hatch and Representative Curtis seem to think it’s enough to listen to the Emery County Commissioners who drafted the bill. At a hearing last week, the only witness allowed was an Emery County spokesman.
They need to remember they have other constituents who want better protection for the irreplaceable wild lands of the San Rafael Swell.
–Thomas J. Messenger