A tireless advocate for Utah wilderness

Yesterday, longtime redrock champion Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) announced he will not seek re-election.  At SUWA, we are saddened at the loss of this fierce and dedicated environmental hero.  Our relationship with Maurice began nineteen years ago when he accepted former Utah Representative Wayne Owens’ request that he become the lead sponsor for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Hinchey with activists
Maurice Hinchey (3rd from left) with
redrock activists George Handley,
McKenzie Carlise, and Eve Miller before
a House Natural Resources Committee
hearing on America’s Red Rock
Wilderness Act in October 2009.

Maurice has been a tireless advocate for protecting Utah wilderness – engaging (and winning) in legislative battles, prodding the BLM to do better from his perch on the Appropriations committee and moving the Red Rock bill forward by gathering cosponsors for the legislation and holding hearings.

Maurice and his staff visited the country he sought to protect numerous times.  One memorable occasion was in 1995 when citizens held field hearings in both Salt Lake City and Cedar City to shed light on the Utah Congressional delegation’s legislative attack on wilderness.  When Maurice stepped off the plane in SLC at midnight, a crowd of Utahns roared approval.  He looked over his shoulder to see who the fuss was for — only to realize we were all waiting for him.

In Cedar City he spoke at the hearing to a cheering crowd of Utah supporters (to the chagrin of Utah Representative Jim Hansen).  We were thankful that someone in Congress would listen to us and understood the importance of wilderness to Utahns and the rest of the nation.

We will miss Maurice’s dedication and experience on the issue.  But with 117 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and Senate champions like Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, we’ll continue to make progress towards protecting Utah’s redrock wilderness.

Please join me in thanking Congressman Hinchey for his decades of work on behalf of Utah’s redrock wilderness by writing a note on his Facebook page, tweeting thanks to @mauricehinchey or writing a letter to his DC office at:

Representative Maurice Hinchey
2431 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515