Before the new Democratic majority takes over the House in January, Sen. Orrin Hatch, abetted by Rep. John Curtis, is trying to do one last bit of mischief by ramming through the Emery County Public Land Management Act. If this bill passes, it would entirely change the character of the San Rafael Swell.

Goblin Valley is one of the few Utah state parks that make money, and Emery County hopes to ramp up tourism development in the area. The bill as written transfers public lands to the state of Utah, opens new areas to coal mining and oil and gas leasing and undermines off-road travel planning.

Emery County has been trying for years to designate Muddy Creek as a “highway” and they might get their wish. The bill fails to enact wilderness protection in popular recreation areas like Muddy Creek, the San Rafael Reef and Labyrinth Canyon. This bill affects everyone who visits the San Rafael Swell and there is no need to rush except to keep the public from knowing what’s really in it. It should wait until the next Congress, when our new senator, Mitt Romney, can facilitate a more transparent and honest public process.

Amy Brunvand, Salt Lake City