Lynn Jackson

It seems like my propensity to advocate for responsible mineral development has once again resulted in a spurious legal claim against me. This time around it will be brought by Living Rivers Conservation Director John Weisheit. I apologize for the turmoil it brings to our county, but I won’t apologize for my balanced position on use of resources available to us in Grand County.

This latest complaint will try to persuade you, with incorrect information and improper interpretation of state code, that the only reason I advocate for mineral development is that it benefits me directly and that I’m breaking the law by doing this. This is patently false. Those of you who agree with the complete elimination of the minerals industry in Grand County will applaud this most recent action. Those of you who don’t may want to ask yourself, what are the motives of these individuals that keep trying to silence and discredit me? What are they afraid of?

I disclosed on my campaign financial disclosure document that I did public land consulting, and the press has previously made note of this. It should be no surprise to Grand County residents. I did subcontracting work for a company that was assisting another company in obtaining a prospecting permit to explore for potash on federal lands in Grand County. I was never an officer, an employee or had any financial stake in this company. I simply did work helping them understand the rules and regulations required to operate on federal public lands. The bulk of this work occurred in 2012 through early 2014, until the federal permit was granted. I was paid on an hourly basis by the subcontractor. Since Grand County has no authority on federal lands for exploratory drilling operations, at no time was there ever an approval action required from Grand County.

State laws, found at Utah Code, Title 17, Chapter 16a, Sections 1-8, are fairly clear regarding outside work by elected officials. These statutes require an elected official who is an officer or employee of a company, doing work requiring an actionable decision from a county, to file annual disclosure of such relationship, and disclose and recuse themselves whenever an approval action is presented to the county council. It’s no more complex than that. Since I was never an officer or employee for any company, nor had any financial interest in any company, and since there was never an action requiring county approval, I was never required to apply these requirements. Living Rivers is alleging I’ve broken this law. I have complete confidence the county or attorney general will once again disagree.

I do advocate for mineral development and other types of economic development for our county, but not because of the motives this complaint implies. I do it for our county and residents. I believe it’s a way to provide additional diversity for our economy, and revenue to offset the need for additional property taxes. I have not seen, nor do any metrics suggest, such development has been or will be harmful to our primary recreation economy. I am fully aware we have residents who oppose this type of development, and that is their right. But a substantial number of our residents agree with me.

As an elected official, I consider a part of the job is to consider any reasonable proposals for economic diversity. I fully support the creation of a USU-Moab campus. I firmly support all forms of recreation, both motorized and non-motorized. I support access to all our lands for our residents and visitors. I support finding solutions to our affordable housing situation. I support enhanced air service to this community. I support designation of reasonable wilderness areas and wild and scenic river designations. I support analysis of our water aquifer and sound management of our water resources. I advocate for balanced land uses and economic diversity. It’s that simple. Please don’t believe the misinformation spread by those who would shut this area down, and see me as someone who must be silenced or defamed simply because I publicly oppose an extreme agenda which has so divided our community. I won’t be politically intimidated into silence.

It’s probably not a far stretch to assume this is really just about politics… If it’s about a legitimate and egregious concern with an elected official, why was it sent to the media along with the county attorney (as were Bill Love’s and Chris Baird’s previous complaints), and why was it filed the day after our local election? I think it significantly calls the motive into question. I’ve no issue with people publicly disagreeing with my viewpoints; it goes with the job. But at what point does an elected official have to keep dealing with such specious legal complaints, essentially making the same allegations that were previously shown to have no merit?

I’m not perfect, and I’m certainly not always politically correct. But I work hard for this county. I look to build economic activity from whatever resources we can bring to the table. And for that I will not apologize.

Lynn Jackson is a retired 32-year employee of the BLM, a public lands consultant and a member of the Grand County Council. The views presented are his alone and do not represent the formal position of the council.