A full page ad in your Feb 13-19 issue calls for a dialogue regarding the Greater Canyonlands area. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance thereby amplified many voices as well as events of the past few weeks which could make the Grand County Council wonder whether it is THEY who are out of step. Readers of the January 16-22 Moab Sun News know that the Council unanimously and precipitously wrote a letter to the President of the United States opposing a proposal by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) for a Greater Canyonlands National Monument. The Council didn’t bother to have a public meeting or attempt in any way to determine whether the citizens of Grand County “unanimously” agreed with their position.
Then, an OIA leader, REI chief Sally Jewell was nominated by the President to be Secretary of the Department of Interior. Despite prior experience as a Mobil Oil engineer and as a banker, Jewell recognizes outdoor recreation as an economic powerhouse. She stood beside Governor Herbert last June in presenting the Western Governors’ Association’s report on the economic impact of outdoor recreation, which stated that Americans spend more money on outdoor recreation than they do on pharmaceuticals. More than on cars. More than on energy for their homes. In 2011, we spent $645 billion on outdoor recreation.
And in Utah, Senator Jim Dabakis introduced a resolution SJR 10 to protect that very area — not by outright designation of a Monument, but in the Senator’s words: “We hope to bring a calm, rational, productive and civil discussion full of facts and figures about what should be protected as the premier recreational lands in the United States. It’s a great treasure we have been given stewardship over. We are open to what kind (of) protections should be built.”
The State Legislature’s fiscal analyst attached a note to SJR 10 of “no direct measurable cost.” Dabakis was actually able to have the resolution heard in Committee, drawing a crowd four times the size of the Committee meeting room. They decided to held the proposal for study
during the Legislature’s next Interim Session.
A recent poll demonstrated that large majorities of Westerners including Utahns support protection of public lands for recreation, even above mineral extraction.
Instead of firing off a letter to the President, let’s initiate an open and transparent process, a dialogue, if you will. Let the State Legislature, the County Councils and Commissions, and the citizens—locally and nationally, have their say.
Jean Binyon, Moab