The same politicians who orchestrated the illegal repeal of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments have introduced “The Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018” — a bill that would significantly impact YOUR public lands in Emery County, Utah by enshrining motorized recreation, falling short on wilderness designation, and undermining existing protections.
Senator Orrin Hatch is now trying to capitalize on the year-end frenzy of legislative activity by gluing the Emery County Public Land Management Act to a potential public lands package being negotiated by the House and Senate.
We can’t let this happen. Contact your representatives now and tell them to oppose Sen. Hatch’s “Not-so-Swell” bill!
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.
While Sen. Hatch has made some changes at the margins of the bill, they are not sufficient. The bill still protects far too little land, and the places it claims to protect are riddled with off-road vehicle routes. It also releases currently protected land for a coal mine and facilitates a land exchange that would allow the State of Utah to acquire nearly 12,000 acres of proposed wilderness!
SUWA sought to work with Sen. Hatch and Rep. Curtis to improve the bill, and offered an alternative proposal, but our suggestions were largely ignored and dismissed.
The current bill is still unacceptable. Here’s what it does:
- Entirely fails to protect remarkable and critical intact wilderness landscapes as wilderness. This includes large portions of Labyrinth Canyon—including the entire eastern side of the canyon system—and much of the remote Muddy Creek region.
- Rolls back existing WSA protections to facilitate coal mining in the Book Cliffs.
- Includes unprecedented giveaways to the State of Utah in the form of recreation and public purpose conveyances. The legislation would hand over control of 7,000 acres of high-value public land to the State of Utah for expansion of Goblin Valley State Park. The State could then charge fees for access and develop new amenities and motorized and non-motorized trail systems.
- Authorizes a land exchange that will give the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) ownership of nearly 12,000 acres of public lands that are currently proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.
- Allows the State of Utah to continue its federal court litigation seeking highway rights-of-way through designated wilderness, instead of resolving Revised Statute (R.S.) 2477 issues.
Bottom line: the land that we fight for is better off if the bill doesn’t pass. Don’t let Hatch hatch another anti-wilderness scheme! Contact your representatives now.