Contrary to the claims of Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. John Curtis (as being a “win” for all stakeholders), their recent introduction of the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018 into Congress is hardly a “win” for conservation.
Many provisions in the bill allowed local county commissioners to control the process without any real regard for Utahns outside of Emery County, Native American tribes, or the millions of Americans who own these federal lands. It also hands control of many of the public lands in and surrounding the San Rafael Swell to the state of Utah and authorizes entrance fees for public access to those lands.
Most important, it fails to protect an adequate amount of the 1.5 million acres of world-class wilderness lands in Emery County — namely by making off-road vehicle abuse worse by chopping up protected areas with routes and trails that have already been deemed illegal.
I have been visiting these stunning lands my whole life (either by hiking, kayaking, camping or driving on legal roads — especially in the Muddy Creek Area). These lands are truly special and deserve better protection than what is outlined in this bill; thus it should not be allowed to pass.
James Thompson, Salt Lake City