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 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 vast portions of the remote Muddy Creek region. As proposed, the bill would designate less wilderness than is currently protected for wilderness character as Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) or Natural Areas.
- 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 nearly 10,000 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 between the federal government and the School Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) that fails to identify federal parcels for acquisition, and fails to ensure protection of lands rescinded from Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments and other wilderness-quality lands.
- 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.
We are committed to fighting and defeating this poorly-considered proposal for some of Utah’s most treasured wilderness landscapes. Will you help us?