Our current county council is not representing the needs of our community. Instead, it is focused on the views of national nonprofits like Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Trust.
As U.S. Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz seek public comment regarding designation of land use of our public lands here in Grand County, our current county council is focused on limiting access to our public lands to satisfy its true constituents – these national nonprofits.
There are so many people within our community who don’t realize what is going on, who work hard each day to support their families, who have no time to write letters and attend workshops or public meetings.
They live here and enjoy the outdoors. These people hunt, hike, gather firewood and 4-wheel to places that their families have visited for generations. They enjoy our rich archaeological sites and tour many of our landscapes visitors may never see. Many are dependent upon public lands to support their families, either through natural resource extraction or recreation.
Their voices are not being heard on this issue. Our current county council is not representing their interests.
If the people who have committed to live here year-round – both during times of prosperity and economic hardship – were surveyed, they would state that they are against locking up the use of our public lands. They would state that we should have multiple use on public lands.
Our county council should talk to the people working in the salt and copper mines; the people who are working in the oil field. It should talk to the ranchers, the builders and the farmers. Our county council shouldn’t just read the identical letters, repeatedly submitted and written by professional letter writers representing the national nonprofits.
Tourists and travelers spent a record $7.5 billion in the Utah economy during 2013, with Utah nonresidents spending $6.4 billion, according to a report recently released by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Instead of locking up the land, we should be creating more access to increase tourism revenue.
Our mining and oil industry should not be blocked from responsible resource extraction that provides well-paying, year-round jobs that will support families.
Oil, gas and mineral extraction also contributes millions of dollars to county government through mineral lease funds and bonuses that offset property taxes. These monies allowed us to build the extended care center, senior center and recreation center; maintain roads and provide recreational programs within the county; and pay for the continued operation of the extended care center.
I’ve lived here 35 years. I’ve seen the uranium boom. I’ve seen the lean years. I’ve seen the recreation boom. We cannot allow a few people – who choose to represent national nonprofits instead of our citizens – to restrict our county and tie up the land that we will, someday in the future, need to access to support our families. Don’t tell me we can’t work together. We can all use this land responsibly and cooperatively.