WASATCH ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE; Congressional Politics and the Central Wasatch

Wasatch Environmental Update for August 20, 22017

By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of SOC

Congressional Politics and the Central Wasatch

 

We find ourselves in strange company as we celebrate the apparent primary election victory of Provo Mayor John Curtis for the Republican nomination to replace Jason Chaffetz in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.  As a 301c-3, tax exempt organization, we took no part in that election.  But we are allowed to celebrate, and now we’ll tell you why.

The story leaps back to the summer of 2016, when Congressman Chaffetz introduced into congress a bill, which in his words, quote “…designates approximately 80,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land including critical watershed, scenic ridge lines, treasured landscapes and recreation areas.  It seeks to balance the need to protect drinking water, preserve recreational opportunities, enhance access and accommodate future population growth.”  The bill was called The Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Act.  It received a hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources, but died from neglect in January when a new Congress was seated.

Then the story leaps back a few years more, to the formation of the intense collaboration called the Mountain Accord, which brought together all the parties interested in the future of the Central Wasatch.  These included national, state, county and municipal interests, recreationists and conservationists, ski resorts, landowners and developers, transportation and wildlife experts……you name it.  It was there.  The process concluded with consensus and gave structure to the congressional bill one year ago.

That bill stands ready to be reintroduced into the current congress, and the primary victory of Mayor John Curtis gives us some hope that it now has a chance.  Of the candidates in that primary, Mayor Curtis is by far the most likely to be interested in the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Act.  Furthermore, as a Republican, he is more likely than either of his later opponents to have some influence with the heavily partisan congress now seated in Washington.

Now you will want to learn why we are so enthusiastic about this legislation.  On the website, saveourcanyons dot org, wait for, and click on, the banner offering Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Act.  Absorb all that and then click on the Online Story Map.  You’ll be led to study a variety of interactive maps illustrating the various aspects of that important Act.

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