Paul Rolly: Stewart saving Utah’s scenic wonders — at least in photos
I stayed at Bryce Canyon National Park recently and, while there, read an interesting history of the park relevant to the current debate about whether Utah and other Western states should take control of federal lands within their boundaries because, as the argument goes, the states can manage them better.
Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, responded to concerns that the fragile features of Bryce Canyon were being irrevocably damaged by overgrazing, logging and unregulated visitation. He proposed it be protected by being made into a state park in 1921.
He met with Gov. Charles Maybe and leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature. A state commission was created to set up a state park system and make Bryce Utah’s first state park.
Mather waited for three years for the Legislature and governor to act while abuse of the canyon continued. He couldn’t wait any longer and persuaded President Warren G. Harding to declare Bryce Canyon a national monument in 1923.
Can you imagine the outcry of presidential overreach from some state legislators had that occurred today?
Bryce, saved from the devastation that was being caused before the presidential declaration, remained a monument until 1928, when Congress turned it into a national park.