What is success? For the Public Lands Initiative to succeed, all interests must be accommodated to an extent that the PLI, as a bill, can pass the U.S. House, Senate and president. To achieve that accommodation, all parties must be willing to compromise some. These lands are so valued by the conservation and quiet-recreation communities that they have mustered the influence over the management of these lands, including the specter of national monument designation, to such an extent that attempted resolution is preferable to the status quo for Republican Representative Bishop. While we may quibble about whether conservation organizations that have offices, staff and many members in Grand County qualify as “local,” the fact remains that the PLI must past muster at a national level. The lands are of national significance, and their designation will be debated, and ultimately decided, out of Grand County.
The Grand County Council has worked hard to balance the diversity of interests on the county’s public lands. I have lived here for 24 years and have not seen a council devote this much energy toward a comprehensive, balanced recommendation for public lands management. So far, it has made many good decisions to protect public lands from incremental degradation and destructive development, while at the same time relinquishing lands I had hoped to see protected. As the council enters the home stretch, a balanced PLI recommendation will include true wilderness in Labyrinth Canyon, its rims and tributaries; and the closure of infringing routes in the Big Triangle-Beaver Creek proposed wilderness.
This is the time for Grand County to affect the PLI. It is important that the council speaks clearly and decisively on which lands we want protected, before the PLI transforms into a U.S. House bill and we lose influence. I hope our council will take full advantage of this opportunity to lead.