Thanks for reporting on the Grand County Council hearing for the Public Lands Initiative. I was out of town for the hearing. Perhaps that is just as well. Several acquaintances told me they had to leave because they could not tolerate the hostility and irrational behavior from some who spoke. The article noted several worn out tropes about wilderness. One person remarked that we have already made too many concessions on public lands in the past. I am not sure what those concessions would be. The only designated wilderness in Grand County is the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area created as part of the Scott McInnis National Conservation Area.That makes a grand total of 5,120 acres of wilderness in Grand County. There remain the Wilderness Study Areas, but they were opposed by the Grand County Commission, with some encouraging bulldozers to push into the proposed WSAs. They missed the boundary. The PLI is supposed to determine what will happen to the WSAs.
One person complained that outsiders were allowed to speak or have opinions. According to the article, she said wilderness proponents should look between Green River and Price for wilderness. That advice is a little late. We already have a good proposal for lands between Green River and Price. Some of it may be protected in the PLI. As far as being an outsider, I would be glad to compare my genealogy with anyone’s. One great, great grandfather came to Utah in 1847. Another came in a hand cart company in 1856. It is arrogant and untrue to think that anyone has a special power and ownership because of proximity. We are all Americans; we are all citizens of the Untied States.
In my opinion, this year is the first year that Grand County has ever seriously attempted to compromise. The previous council made an attempt but fell short. But you cannot compromise with someone you do not talk to. I was prevented from participating in the Big Flat Working Group that helped create a proposal at the end of last year. No wilderness proponents were allowed to speak with the committee that created the three alternatives proposed last year.
The current county council has been refreshingly open to discussing the PLI with all members of the public.