Are you sitting down?
We can hardly believe we get to say this, but against great odds, Labyrinth Canyon, Muddy Creek, Desolation Canyon and other Utah wild lands may soon get permanent protection as wilderness!
The Emery County Public Land Management Act just passed the Senate as part of a public lands package, which now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives.
You’ll recall that throughout last year, we were fighting the so-called “Not-so-Swell” Emery County bill. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative John Curtis (R-UT), simply did not go far enough in its protections for Utah’s fragile places and needed to be improved if it were to pass. With your help, we told them so. Repeatedly. AND IT WORKED.
Late in the last Congress, with just about a week remaining in the session, we had a breakthrough. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the champion of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act who was threatening to hold up the legislation, successfully negotiated significant wilderness additions to the Emery County bill, including additions for the Muddy Creek and Labyrinth Canyon regions. With these gains the bill protects about 663,000 acres of wilderness in Utah! The bill also designates about 60 miles of the Green River as Wild and Scenic, and facilitates a trade of state lands that are constantly under threat of development out of wilderness and recreation areas.
As with any legislative compromise, we didn’t get everything we wanted. But SUWA held firm to our principles, and with our partners in the Utah Wilderness Coalition, we won the improvements needed to earn our support.
All told, the bill protects a huge amount of habitat, helps buffer against climate change, and preserves some of Utah’s wildest places. We were able to negotiate this legislation with delegation members who have been traditionally opposed to wilderness, and with Donald Trump in the White House. That’s huge.
Now that the bill has overwhelmingly passed the Senate in a package of lands bills, we need your help to get it through the House. Please contact your representative today and ask them to support the Emery County Public Land Management Act!
This victory was a colossal team effort. We couldn’t have done it without support from SUWA members like you, the deep knowledge of our field staff, our stalwart congressional champions, and a whole lot of grit and resolve.
It’s time to celebrate, and then help get this bill over the finish line!
Thank you for all you do!