America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would protect iconic western landscapes with evocative names like Desolation Canyon, Cedar Mesa, and Labyrinth Canyon, as well as lands within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This visionary legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives since 1989, first by then-Utah Rep. Wayne Owens, and subsequently by Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York and Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey. In 1996, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois agreed to introduce a Senate version of the bill and has done so every Congress since. In the 113th Congress, the bill (H.R. 1630/S. 769) was reintroduced in April 2013 with 60 House and 11 Senate original cosponsors.

Gooseneck proposed wilderness.  Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

Gooseneck proposed wilderness. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

In October of 2009, America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act received its first stand-alone hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee. The hearing showcased the support of prominent Utahns – including former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, former Republican State Legislator Bryson Garbett, and Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf – who all spoke passionately on the importance of protecting the redrock for the future of the state.

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act has served as a model and yardstick against which to compare other BLM wilderness proposals for Utah. Its national support in Congress has helped defeat or substantially improve deficient proposals for Washington County, the West Desert and the San Rafael Swell. All lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act are owned by the American public and administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The bill is supported by SUWA, the Wasatch Mountain Club, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and more than 200 other national and regional conservation organizations belonging to the Utah Wilderness Coalition.