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Letter: Consider the inherent value in wild lands instead of the theoretical economic losses

(Susan Walsh | AP) President Joe Biden hands a pen to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as he signs a proclamation on the North Lawn at the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, during an event announcing that his administration is restoring protections for two sprawling national monuments in Utah that have been at the center of a long-running public lands dispute, and a separate marine conservation area in New England that recently has been used for commercial fishing.

Utah is known around the world for its beautiful redrock landscape and national parks. When President Trump downsized the size of two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, people were devastated. This land would be opened up for fossil fuel extraction, which would consequently destroy the land and further contribute to climate change.

President Biden’s decision to restore protection for these national monuments is phenomenal news.

Gov. Spencer Cox and Sen. Mitt Romney expressed their disappointment in the reversal, claiming it was a missed economic opportunity. Utah leaders would like to put a price on these national monuments and claim that protecting them is wrong.

How can we sell land that has significant religious meaning to indigenous tribes?

How can we put a price on the beauty of the red rocks that can’t be found anywhere else in the world?

How can we accept that untouched wilderness would be destroyed?

With Biden’s reversal, hopefully none of that will come to pass and these national monuments will be preserved. Utahns and indigenious tribes support and applaud Biden’s decision and urge Utah leaders to do the same. Consider the inherent value in wild lands instead of the theoretical economic losses and take action to protect wild Utah lands for future Utahns to enjoy.

Jessica Hall, Salt Lake City

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