On May 9, 2018, Senator Orrin Hatch and Rep. John Curtis of Utah introduced “The Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018” — a bill that would significantly impact YOUR public lands in Emery County, Utah.
Emery County is home to world-class wilderness landscapes such as the San Rafael Swell and Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons, and contains more than 1.5 million acres of land worthy of wilderness protection.
The same politicians who instigated and celebrated the illegal repeal of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments have introduced legislation in Emery County that enshrines motorized recreation and undermines existing protections.
SUWA sought to work with Sen. Hatch and Rep. Curtis to improve the bill, and offered an alternative proposal, but our suggestions were ignored and dismissed.
The resulting bill is unacceptable. Here’s what it does:
- Fails to protect nearly two-thirds of the wilderness proposed by America’s Redrock Wilderness Act: approximately 900,000 acres of proposed wilderness is omitted from designation.
- Undercuts a settlement reached by conservationists, the Trump administration, and off-road vehicle advocates that resolved nearly ten years of federal court litigation by requiring new travel plans for the San Rafael area, based on conservation values. Instead, the bill takes the unprecedented approach of excluding all motorized routes from the NCA and designated Wilderness–resulting in chopped up landscapes, undermining conservation designations, and effectively ensuring that the routes will remain open in perpetuity. This includes the illegal travel plan routes and additional motorized routes and trails sought by Emery County.
- Allows the state of Utah to continue its federal court litigation seeking highway rights-of-way through newly designated Wilderness and the NCA, instead of resolving the RS 2477 issues.
- Removes existing Wilderness Study Area protection to facilitate coal mining.
- Creates an NCA with management language that gives undue influence to local and state interests, and allows new motorized and mechanized recreational development in remote areas.
- Furthers the state of Utah’s land grab by conveying federal lands with high-quality, high-value recreational opportunities to state management and control. The state of Utah could then develop these lands or charge fees for use of lands that are currently free to the public.
We are committed to fighting and defeating this poorly-considered proposal for some of Utah’s most treasured wilderness landscapes. Will you help us?