Letter: Utah’s greatest contribution is to protect our wild lands

(Rick Bowmer | AP, pool) U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland tours near ancient dwellings along the Butler Wash trail during a visit to Bears Ears National Monument Thursday, April 8, 2021, near Blanding.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland,

The owners and operators of Utah businesses serving the hospitality and tourism industry welcomed your recent visit to Utah. We are proud of our state, and of the contribution we make to the Utah economy. Travel and tourism is one of the top 10 industries in Utah, and creates 1 in 11 of all Utah jobs.

Our industry generated $10.06 billion in visitor spending in 2019, and $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. Our collective contribution to the Utah economy dwarfs that produced by most other sectors of economic activity, including agriculture, mining and energy production.

We would like you to know that we, our business partners and our customers support immediate action by President Joe Biden to restore the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument to their original form. We understand and appreciate that the greatest contribution Utah can make to our nation, and to the world, is to protect and preserve the unbroken and wild lands that we as Utahns are so blessed to enjoy.

Doing the right thing for the nation will also be the right thing for the citizens of Utah, building into a clean and healthy economic future. It is truly unfortunate that the perspective of our elected representatives is so myopic, limited only to “what’s in it” for legacy sectors and their out of state campaign contributors.

The time to act is now. The danger of damaging impacts to the monuments is clear, present and growing. The Utah delegation has had 25 years to propose GSENM legislation that would demonstrate to the nation a genuine commitment to the national interest, and failed to do so, decade after decade.

Please urge President Biden to act now to restore the Utah monuments, and let him know that our sector of the Utah economy has his back. Thank you.

Mike Coronella, owner, Deep Desert Adventures, Moab. Peter Corroon, former mayor, Salt Lake County. Tim Gaylord, director of operations, Holiday River Expeditions, Salt Lake City. Vaughn Hadenfeldt, founder, Far Out Expeditions, Bluff. Susan Hand, founder/owner, Willow Canyon Outdoors, Kanab. John Loomis, former vice president/general manager, Snowbasin Resort, Huntsville. Tom Love, founder/CEO, Love Communications, Salt Lake City. Peter Metcalf, founder/CEO emeritus, Black Diamond Equipment, Salt Lake City. Red Oelerich, founder, Outdoor Utah, Salt Lake City. Kirstin Peterson, founder/owner, Rim Tours, Moab. Brett Sutteer, founder/owner, Cliffs & Canyon, Moab. Karla Vander Zanden, founder/director emeritus, Colorado Field Institute, Moab. Leigh von der Esch, former director, Utah Office of Tourism, Kanab. Dennis & Dana Waggoner and Nate & Kristina Waggoner, owners, Escalante Outfitters, Escalante. Keith Watts, founder/owner, Earth Tours, Boulder.

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