My ancestors the Swasey brothers were the first Anglos to set foot in the San Rafael Swell and call it home. You’ll see places like Swasey’s Cabin and Swasey’s Leap scattered around this vast wilderness that is now enjoyed by many Utahns for its rugged beauty.

Though some thought they were crazy, the Swaseys escaped the populous Wasatch Front to drive cattle and wagons into this harsh wilderness with very little water for livestock. A hundred years later, the descendants have moved back to surrounding towns, but not much has changed in the landscape itself.

Thanks to the designation of wilderness study areas, most of this rugged landscape and sensitive ecosystem is safe from mining and extensive off-road use, ensuring it stays nearly as wild as it was in the 1920s. Unfortunately, the Emery County Public Land Management Act recently introduced by Rep. John Curtis and Sen. Orrin Hatch presents an unsure fate for this wild land. This bill would gut wilderness protections, changing right-of-ways and boundaries to allow mining and highways in places once only accessible after days on foot. This act does nothing but make the politicians a quick buck and make the Swaseys turn over in their graves.

Douglas Tolman, Salt Lake City