I was appalled to hear that there was only one witness — an Emery County spokesman — at a hearing last week for a bill that will determine the fate of public lands in Emery County, including the San Rafael Swell, a geologic wonderland beloved by many.
Do we need again to remind Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. John Curtis that public lands are also that heritage of Utahns outside Emery County and all Americans, and that legislation for this treasured area should reflect our interests too?
In an email responding to my phoned complaint, Rep. Curtis described the bill as "striking a delicate balance.” In reality, it caters utterly to the wishes of Emery County officials.
It enshrines in place a thousand miles of roads and routes that slice up the wild character of the Swell, making an end run around a court settlement that requires a new review of how these routes harm cultural artifacts, natural values and the simple quiet. It designates less Bureau of Land Management land as wilderness than is already being protected as wilderness study areas or natural areas, leaving nearly 900,000 acres of wilderness-quality lands vulnerable to future degradation.
I say: “Not good enough!” Will anyone listen?
Thomas H. Laabs-Johnson, Sandy