Dear Editor,

A decision is coming soon on Rob Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative (PLI), a move that’s very much a part of the Race for What’s Left. The fact that the PLI’s “protections” use an accounting method that includes designating wilderness already well-secured in national parks shows the effort for the sham it is and the protections themselves have holes big enough to drive a drill rig through. This move has precious little to do with conservation. It’s part of a thinly disguised bid to turn public land into essentially private land. The PLI is a Trojan Horse.

I first lived in Moab in the late 70s and early 80s. I moved back because it’s the most beautiful and amazing place in the world, and it’s worth more, much more, than its monetary value. This place is unique and special. It deserves to be protected. Once it’s gone it will never, ever be back.

The millions of people who come here don’t come to see things like what the PLI is going to do to this place. Want an example? On the north side of Route 163, just west of Bluff, is a section of public land that includes Comb Ridge where the old highway used to cut through. I, and many other citizens of this state, have been stopping by there and visiting that site since before the School Trust Lands System was set up. It’s a gateway to Comb Ridge. Free, open camping, access to hikes anywhere on the Ridge, ruins, petroglyphs, amazing views … a beautiful, public place to play. It’s going on the auction block in a few weeks to the highest bidder and soon so will the rest of the places we value if efforts like the PLI become law.

If the PLI passes, some people are going to make money until the next bust. A very few people are going to make breathtaking amounts of money at the expense of what most of us love about this place, and when they’re done, this will not be the Utah it once was.

We have a vast system of public lands like nowhere else in the world. A place where we can all hunt, fish, camp, hike and marvel.

You can explore here. You can camp out and hear nothing at night. You can walk for five minutes and be absolutely, totally alone. You can shoot an elk and feed your family. You can breathe clean air. You can see stars like cavemen saw them.

Protect our home. Say “no” to the Public Lands Initiative.