San Juan County Dispatch #7

August 3, 2010

It now appears that Senator Bennett and the San Juan County Commissioners are developing legislation they plan on introducing before the year’s end without input from the Utah Wilderness Coalition (UWC). It is a serious lapse of judgment to assume that a legitimate public lands bill is possible without the help of the UWC—that part of the Utah conservation community with the most experience in, knowledge of, and passion for the wilderness in San Juan County.

From our perspective, the worst case scenario is that members of the Senate will attach a San Juan County
public lands bill to other legislation in order to pass it as a “going away present” to Sen. Bennett, with whom some of them have served for nearly two decades. We agree that the good Senator deserves a present for his diligent
service, but have his friends considered a nice gold watch or a weekend at a timeshare on Maui? Neither of those will incite the battle that will surely begin once legislation involving wilderness in San Juan County is introduced.

We take comfort in having stated publicly over and over again that if we are not involved in creating a bill, the issue will not be resolved. We will:

  • With Redrock activists, oppose any bad legislation and/or work with our Redrock Champions to add wilderness as to make it a significant step forward in land protection.
  • Continue to defend and work to protect any areas not designated wilderness.
  • Make the strongest possible case for National Monument designation.
  • File litigation against the Bush management plan controlling ORV and energy use for the area.
  • Keep pushing for the passage of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

We are closely watching the situation in San Juan County—the home of Cedar Mesa, Glen Canyon, and the Greater Canyonlands wilderness areas—and will update you when we get further information, including schedules for public meetings, which are likely to occur. 

Stay tuned, and thank you for your continued interest.