March 14, 2019

Natural Resources Management Act of 2019

By John Worlock, Member of Save Our Canyons

For a few weeks we’ve been celebrating the passage of the Natural Resources Management Act of 2019, and we expect to be celebrating its provisions for many years to come.  It is probably the most important environmental legislation in half a century.

Earlier we promised a run-down of its particulars, but you are going to have to make do with an abbreviated version.  We have the full text of the bill, known as S.47, on our computer, all 695 pages of it.  It is not rollicking reading material, as it devotes itself to legal definitions and specific locations identifiable, perhaps, to surveyors.  There is no fancy language describing the scenery or the wildlife, or even justifying the act’s motivations.

Many of the act’s creations are quite minor, in our opinion, as for example a National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY.  But let’s start with some of the most important provisions of S.47.

First, nationally, is the restoration of the expired Land and Water Conservation Fund. Also nationally, there is the Get Kids Outdoors piece, providing free access to fourth graders and their sponsors to National Parks.

For Utah, though, first is the creation of 2/3 million acres of Wilderness in Emery County around the San Rafael Swell and Muddy Creek and along the Desolation and Labyrinth Canyons of the Green River.  In addition there are 200000 acres of a new San Rafael Swell Recreation Area, closed to new mining claims and to any new OHV routes. Also 63 miles of the Green River are now protected as Wild and Scenic.

Nationally, there will be many pieces of new and expanded Wildernesses, totaling another 2/3 million acres, along with equivalent acreage of Recreation and Conservation Areas, largely withdrawn from mineral development.

The overwhelming popularity of this act in Congress may be related to how its impact is spread widely across the nation, along with its many provisions catering to sports folk such as fishers, hunters and target-shooters.

Finally, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the act will save $9 million dollars in the next ten years plus raise some additional revenue.  Not much against the national deficit, but we’ll take it gladly, thank you!