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Stephen Perkins: Salt Lake City is the heart of the conservative environmental movement

Conservatives support common-sense environmental solutions.

(Nate Carlisle | The Salt Lake Tribune) Downtown Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Mountains as seen looking to the southeast on July 1, 2019

Among all the cities of the west, Salt Lake City is perhaps the preeminent hidden gem. Nestled among the commanding Wasatch Mountains, it’s easy to see what attracted Native tribes, and later the Latter-day pioneers, to settle here.

Because of that foresight, the “Crossroads of the West” is now a destination for outdoor recreationists, cultural experiences and, more recently, the epicenter for the conservative movement’s return to its environmental roots.

Look no further than the leadership that has emerged from the area. Rep. John Curtis — chairman of the Conservative Climate Caucus, a group founded to educate and facilitate conversations about right-of-center solutions to climate issues — lives in and represents nearby Provo. In fact, the very gathering that would later result in the formation of the caucus was held right here in Salt Lake City, and Curtis held a second conservative climate summit here last year.

House Republicans’ recent embrace of conservative environmentalism is due to, in no small part, the increasing importance young conservatives are placing on the issue. After the 2022 election, 80% of young Republicans said we should prioritize the environment first or pursue environmental protection and economic prosperity in tandem. Only 19% said the economy should be prioritized over the environment. Simply, young Republicans want elected officials to not only acknowledge climate change, but actively pursue solutions that balance environmental protection with economic security.

There is a growing movement of so-called Eco-Right organizations both building the grassroots movement and pushing for legislative change in Washington, D.C. We are spread throughout the country, but we collaborate to bolster our crucial movement. Still, Salt Lake City remains an important place for our movement.

It’s for this very reason that my organization, the American Conservation Coalition, chose Salt Lake City as the destination for our second annual ACC Summit, to be held this June. ACC is the leading youth right-of-center environmental organization in the country and we’re thrilled to be headed west for year two of our summit. Last year’s Summit was hosted in Washington, D.C., with more than 300 attendees and speakers ranging from members of Congress to celebrities to policy experts; this year, we expect to expand our impact.

Perhaps the most profound part of last year’s summit was watching people from a variety of backgrounds come together and have the increasingly rare discussions about how we can protect our planet, secure our future and empower our people at the same time. Attendees were educated on the issues and provided training to take their newfound expertise back to their local communities. Politicians and other stakeholders heard from our members about their concerns and hopes.

This gathering was the first of its kind – young, right-of-center activists gathered to support common-sense environmental solutions – and we’re excited to do it all again this year. The 2023 ACC Summit will include more hands-on experiences, opportunities to network with fellow activists and experts, and resources to bring our movement back to their communities.

Salt Lake City will be the perfect backdrop for our second annual summit. We’re looking forward to welcoming our activists to the Beehive State for a weekend they’ll never forget.

Stephen Perkins |American Conservation Coalition

Stephen Perkins is the vice president of grassroots strategy at the American Conservation Coalition. Learn more about the ACC Summit and register for 2023′s event at ACCSummit.eco.