I feel the next issue for the council should be supporting the protection of what I call the public land resources that are necessary to maintain a strong tourist economy in Grand County. The prior council’s interests were in protecting the needs of the extraction industries and not preserving public land for future generations.
We currently have three important land issues in the county that the council needs to prioritize and address. The three are interrelated and can provide public land protection in all areas of the county.
1. The Master Leasing Plan (MLP) is a BLM Environmental Impact Statement that will allocate public lands to various uses. This includes allocating lands to recreation, oil and gas extraction, and potash development. The prior council thought all the alternatives in the first draft of the MLP were too restrictive to the extraction industry, and they asked the BLM to not make any changes. The new council needs to send a letter to the BLM supporting the MLP, and it needs to rescind the prior letter.
2. The Bishop proposal is an effort by Representative Bishop and other US House representatives to allocate lands to various uses for about six or seven Utah counties. The prior council was preparing the plan without including any of the conservation groups in the discussion. However, the council did ask the extraction industry for its input. The new council has already made significant improvements in how the Bishop proposal will be prepared and will allow people other than the extraction industry to make presentations.
3. Greater Canyonlands National Monument was never mentioned by the old council. The monument was the nightmare of the extraction industry and was demonized by the old council. The monument would protect a large area around Canyonlands National Park, and the new council should send a letter to President Obama as soon as possible supporting the monument.
Supporting the national monument should be the county’s first priority. The Bishop proposal and the Master Leasing Plan should be the county’s second and third priorities.