Governor Gary Herbert hosted Utah’s annual economic summit on May 17, which included a panel on “Building Your Business Through Outdoor Recreation.” Ironically, he is also pushing to exempt Utah from the longstanding national Roadless Rule. Roadless Area protections are important to the state’s outdoor recreation economy, which today supports 110,000 direct jobs and generates $12.3 billion in consumer spending. Removing protections from some 90% of Utah’s National Forests, as his petition to the U.S. Forest Service proposes, would roll back or eliminate safeguards for nearly 80% of protected backcountry skiing, hiking and mountain biking areas.
The Roadless Rule has preserved wildland recreation opportunities for nearly two decades. It is supported by 75 percent of the public, according to a poll conducted for the Pew Charitable Trusts. Opening Utah’s amazing National Forests, like the Manti-La Sal and Fishlake, to road building for industrial logging is shortsighted and will shortchange future generations. The Conservation Alliance strongly urges Gov. Herbert to embrace the Roadless Rule in Utah, and safeguard these important outdoor recreation assets.
John Sterling is the executive director of the Conservation Alliance in Bend, Ore.