The Utah congressional delegation and governor’s office, led by Rep. Rob Bishop, have announced an effort to negotiate a “grand bargain” for redrock wilderness in eastern Utah. We see this as potentially a step in the right direction.
In the last twenty years, the fight over Utah’s redrock wilderness has raged from county commission meetings to the halls of Congress — and we’ve been winning. With your help, we’ve successfully gained some form of protection for more BLM wilderness in Utah than in any other state over the past fifteen plus years. As a result, the counties and state have come to accept that eventually large amounts of wilderness will be designated in Utah.
When we received Congressman Bishop’s letter in February asking for our input on legislation, we were skeptical but intrigued. Congressman Bishop is, after all, chairman of the House subcommittee that for the past three years has focused on how to drill more, protect less and sell more public land. He is also the same person with whom we worked successfully and amicably to pass the Cedar Mountains Wilderness bill in 2006.
Talks have just started, and there is no clearly defined process as this is written. But we’re willing to try to resolve wilderness issues with the congressman — with the help of our redrock champions in DC, of course. We don’t turn our noses up at opportunities to pass good wilderness legislation for the redrock, just as we never fear fighting bad legislation. And we’ve done that repeatedly in the past.
Unless and until there is an agreement, we will continue all of our other work: building national support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, pursuing a Greater Canyonlands National Monument, challenging the Bush administration’s Resource Management Plans, fighting the state’s land grab and R.S. 2477 litigation, and fighting projects that would damage the redrock wilderness. Just as we expect Congressman Bishop will continue to try to repeal the Antiquities Act (which we’ll oppose), until and unless there is an agreement.
With your help, we’ve survived and thrived through good and rough times for three decades. Like you, we’re motivated by our love of the canyons. And that is precisely why we’re ready to work with Mr. Bishop.