I’ve heard Rep. John Curtis praise his Emery County Public Lands Management Act as a win for all stakeholders. Normally, these stakeholders would include landowners, conservation groups, local governments, off-road enthusiasts, water-users, and others who care about the lands we own in common. On June 21, a hearing was held in Washington, D.C. on the Emery County bill, but the single stakeholder allowed to testify was an Emery County spokesman. Only Emery County. There are over 3 million Utahns and 325.7 million Americans, including many people like me who know the Swell firsthand and object to this bill as written. An open process fair to all? Really?
Representative Curtis’ bill only protects a bare minimum of wilderness, limiting wilderness designation to areas that are ALREADY under protection (wilderness study areas and natural areas). This is no more than a name change. And by “cherry-stemming” a thousand miles of vehicle routes, the bill fails to adequately protect even the lands it claims it is protecting.
This bill is a blatant gift to the commissioners of Emery County and a loss to anyone who wants to see the San Rafael remain the unspoiled place it is today. The land and the public deserve a better process and better bill.