February 17, 2019

A Miracle in the US Senate

By John Worlock, Member of Save Our Canyons

We’re celebrating the unexpected passage in the US Senate last week of an omnibus bill that is applauded by a variety conservationists.  It offers, for example, the permanent reauthorization of the national Land and Water Conservation Fund, whose expiration last autumn, we noted with dismay.  This fund has been important in past years, with financial help to municipalities and counties, nationwide, for creation of trails, parklands and open spaces.  Our own Bonneville Shoreline Trail has been just one of the local beneficiaries

But that’s not all, as the Natural Resources Management Act creates some 1.3 million acres of new Wilderness, six new units of National Parks, some new National Monuments, a new National Recreation Area and a new Wild and Scenic River designation for 60 miles of the Green River  It would also prohibit the development of mineral deposits in two separate watersheds.  That’s whole lot of conservation, all in one bite!

While we celebrate, we are aware that the bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where is should have a smooth ride, and then, alas, is faced with the pen of a very unpredictable president.  But the Senate’s positive vote of 92 to 8 gives us confidence that the bill will soon become law.

Utah’s members of the House should vote favorably, as the omnibus bill contains the locally constructed Emery County Public Land Management Act, protecting as Wilderness over six hundred thousand acres of the San Rafael Swell including Muddy Creek and the Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons.  Before passage, this bill achieved some important repairs, sponsored by friends of Utah’s Redrock Wilderness, so that praise for its passage is almost universal, including the generally hard-nosed Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.