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Utah's GOP delegation to Obama: Say no to monument

Published November 27, 2012 1:14 pm

Politics • They urge president to follow a "collaborative" approach around Canyonlands.
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Washington • Utah's Republicans in Congress are sending their own letter to President Barack Obama arguing against the idea of designating 1.4 million acres surrounding Canyonlands National Park as a national monument.

Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee along with Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz say the president should jettison the proposal by a group of outdoor-related businesses and look instead to a more grass-roots approach.

"Federal land-use decisions must be cultivated in a collaborative process that balances various stakeholder uses in this process," the four members of Congress wrote in a letter Thursday. "Presidential decrees preclude this process and would be a detriment to our state."

The Outdoor Industry Association and more than 100 related businesses sent a letter to Obama earlier this week asking him to designate the area around the national park as a monument, a move the president could do with a signature.

The groups say the outdoor industry adds $256 billion annually to the economy and supports 2.3 million jobs — and that adding to it by protecting treasured landscapes would only improve that.

Utah's GOP members of Congress say in their letter there should be a balanced approach in recognizing iconic areas and tapping major deposits of oil and gas resources in the area.

"Preserving these open spaces for future generations and utilizing the resources in a responsible manner," they said, "may be done in harmony."

Utah's Democratic congressman, Rep. Jim Matheson, did not sign the letter.

tburr@sltrib.com