As someone who came to Utah in the early 21st century, I was awed by its desert landscapes, especially in southern Utah. My arrival coincided with the government’s attempts to eradicate the invasive, water- guzzling tamarisk trees that were everywhere along the waterways with a beetle that, amazingly, ate only tamarisks. Ingenuous, I thought, to use such a targeted pest. Alas, the annihilation of the tamarisks invaded someone else’s home — the flycatchers who lived only among tamarisk trees. The project was abandoned.
So it was really disappointing to me to read in an interview with the BLM’s head William Pendley that he’s in favor of clearing pinyon pine and juniper trees
that are indigenous to our wild lands and have been a part of Indigenous food, art, medicine and firewood for many centuries. There’s no magic beetle in his plan, only heavy machinery that damages the landscape of these forests as it clears them. Further, there’s no chance for scientists or Utah’s people to weigh in about these plans. At the very least, he owes us a hearing before he tears up more landscape.