Op-Ed: John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors, Save Our Canyons
This has indeed been a Monumental Week. First of all, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is in Southern Utah to “listen” to opponents of the popular plan to designate the “Bears Ears” as a National Monument. Secondly, Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz have, at long last, introduced their Utah Public Lands Initiative bill that would block such a Bears Ears Monument. Thirdly, Representative Chris Stewart introduced an amendment that would strip the Interior Department of the funds necessary to create that monument.
We don’t have any time here to talk more about the Bears Ears National Monument, but will leave it to you to study and learn about that proposal, which we support whole-heartedly, while we decry the congressmen’s efforts to thwart that designation.
All of this commotion has not diminished our enthusiasm for an important congressional bill introduced at the beginning of the week. This bill, numbered as HR5718, provides for the permanent protection of nearly 80,000 acres of federal land in the Central Wasatch. It is the culmination of several years of strenuous negotiation, involving the forces of commercial development, watershed and environmental protection, along with transportation, municipal, county, state and federal interests. It embodies the long-term vision of the process known as Mountain Accord. It creates the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Act of 2016.
As Congressman Chaffetz says in his press release, “This bill designates approximately 80,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land including critical watershed, scenic ridgelines, treasured landscapes and recreation areas. It seeks to balance the need to protect drinking water, preserve recreational opportunities, enhance access and accommodate future population growth.”
We, at Save Our Canyons, have worked hard on this difficult collaboration, and look forward to the support of our members and followers in urging its swift passage through congress. Congressman Chaffetz’s website allows you to download the text of the bill, along with an important and informative map detailing the areas that will become the new National Conservation and Recreation Area in the nearby Tri-Canyon area of the Central Wasatch.
Go also for inspiration to our website: www.saveourcanyons.org.