I am deeply concerned about our lands near Capital Reef National Park that have been put up for gas and oil leasing by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The beauty of these public lands is the reason I moved to Utah. I believe we have a responsibility to protect and preserve these natural gifts for future generations.

I am grateful to have grown up immersed in nature, forming a profound appreciation for the importance of a healthy environment. With no television, my playground was the wilderness of endless forests that stretched beyond my backyard. I moved to Utah because it offers so much diversity, with city life not so far from beautiful wild places that call back my childhood. Clean, healthy, simple, nature. This is a future all children have a right to enjoy.

It is imperative Zinke pull back these leases and keep our wild places pristine. In a few weeks our state’s delegation will put these lands up for the grasp of hungry oil and gas companies to destroy.

Instead of responding to the people and carrying out a reasonable federal land management process, Zinke is giving handouts to his friends in the fossil fuel industries. It is time to replace Zinke with leadership that will protect our public lands.

MaryAnn Petela, Salt Lake City