Wasatch Environmental Update for May 7, 2017
By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons
“Salt Lake County Planning Activities”
It’s a little bit of an emergency just now as Salt Lake County is into some new and unexpected planning activities. These are always dangerous activities, as we might reasonably suspect them of inadequate commitment to the environmental needs of the county.
Here is what is happening. The Utah legislature passed a bill several years ago mandating that counties review their relationships with public lands within the county border. That sounds reasonable unless you suddenly realize that the phrase “public lands” really means federally owned acres, and in Salt Lake County, that means the Forest Service. A glance at the map tells us that most of the land east of the Wasatch Fault, up the several popular canyons to the ridges overlooking Summit and Utah Counties, is Forest Service Land. We share with some others a lingering suspicion that someone at the state wants the counties to study their federal lands so that they know what they are getting when they succeed in their dreamed take-over of federal lands in Utah.
But in any case, the study is under way. Salt Lake County contracted out their study, and suddenly it is released and being discussed by county planning agencies. Already, before you hear this message, it will have been before the Mountainous Planning Commission. It is scheduled to be reviewed by the County Planning Commission this week (!) at 8:30 am on Wednesday morning. (Agenda and meeting information here)
Here is the problem. A draft of the plan, County Resource Management Plan for Public Lands, is available on the web, but it is over a hundred pages long, and no one has had time to study it to see how it fits in with, and possibly augments, other planning documents for the Central Wasatch Mountains and Foothills. (More from SOC on the RMP here)
Here is what we suggest should be done. Write or call your county legislators asking for first, a postponement of their deliberations until we have time to study the Resource Management Plan for Public Lands, and second an official invitation for public comments. Those public lands are just too precious and too threatened for us to allow the adoption of such a management plan without our important scrutiny and comment.
That’s a good idea. So do it. Please.
Please submit your comments to County Planning Coordinator Wendy Gurr at WGurr@slco.org.