Hatch visits Zion, discusses public lands, tourism, new proposed Utah monument

ZION NATIONAL PARK — Senator Orrin Hatch traded some time from all the hustle and bustle he deals with in Washington D.C. for a visit to Utah this week to take in the state’s beauty and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Shadowed by an entourage of staff members and Secret Service, Hatch toured Zion National Park Wednesday with Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.

“This is something I need to do periodically, to come and see the national parks and make sure everything is going right and see what we need to do as a delegation to keep up our parks and keep a good order between the citizens of Utah and the federal government. So this is a very important trip, but it’s not an easy one,” Hatch said while chatting with reporters about his trip and several issues concerning Utah.

The visit was the first stop for the senator on a weeklong tour of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks. The trip is an effort by Hatch to affirm his support of the parks while also highlighting some of the federal issues facing the state right now, specifically the controversially proposed Bears Ears national monument in San Juan County.

The Republican senator and the rest of Utah’s GOP congressional delegation have been working against President Barack Obama’s proposal to offer permanent environmental protections of the Bears Ears area by designating it a national monument.

“We believe the Antiquities Act is overused. We feel President Clinton went way overboard than he should have,” Hatch said. “Now this problem with Bears Ears is that naturally the federal government wants to tie up as much land as they can. We don’t want that.”

Hatch likened the proposal of the Bears Ears monument to the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996 by President Bill Clinton saying, “that one still rankles us.”

“I always thought the designation down south was out of line but this would be even more out of line because it would involve millions of acres of prime Utah land, especially when the delegation is willing to work with them and try to resolve this so there isn’t the animosity that arose out of the prior designation.”

Unlike the first time around when Clinton made the designation without even discussing it with state leaders, this time there has been an opportunity for Utah’s senators and representatives to work with the president’s administration in finding a resolution.

Congressional Representatives Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart and Jason Chaffetz have been actively trying to come to a compromise or find an alternative that when finished will balance environmental soundness with state’s rights, Hatch said.

Likewise, he believes Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell is willing to work with Utah’s delegation and would rather do so than have the president designate millions of acres “against our will,” referring to the delegation and state leaders.

In a private discussion with St. George News, Hatch also discussed his thoughts on Stewart and Chaffetz recently introducing legislation that, if passed, would take away the law enforcement arm of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

“That’s very difficult to do because although we would like to have the BLM to be more responsive to Utah we’re only one state and six federal leaders with two senators on the floor and four in the very large House of Representatives,” Hatch said.

The senator attributed some of the problems in effecting change to the “radical” environmental voice in Washington D.C. that he maintains has a lot of control over the Democratic Party.

As for the idea that Utah will be able to find a way to force the federal government to allow the state to manage the public lands, Hatch doesn’t think that will happen anytime soon.

“Well, I wish we could, but that’s not going to happen,” he said. “And it’s not just environmental groups, but it’s mainly environmental groups, but it’s that we’re only one state. There are 50 states and most states don’t mind pushing everything off on Utah. We just don’t have the votes. Now there could come a time where we could get the votes to run our own lands but I don’t see that in the new future.”

Hatch highlighted the importance of the 3.6 million visitors to Zion last year, a 30 percent increase from the numbers seen just a decade before. Park officials have been working to develop a new management plan to address the record crowds.

But even with the tourist numbers climbing, Hatch said tourism is too important to Utah and the area to limit the number of people going into the park.

“Zion is the most well visited place in the world. Tourism is crucial to Utah,” Hatch said. “Last year just in taxes alone the state brought in $1.1 billion and if you look at tourism, it brings in $7 to $8 billion and that’s going up every year. Tourism is big business in Utah, and we’re very pleased to support it. I would have to say that we’re doing a great job here in Utah. It’s the most beautiful state in the Union.”

He continued, “I don’t want to do that (limit visitors). Utah is one of the most beautiful places on earth and we ought to get as many people who want to see it as we can possibly get through here.”

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • godisdead June 3, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Once again the “award winning” reporter, Tracie Sullivan, shows her bias. She simply regurgitates Hatch’s rhetoric without checking the facts.
    The majority of Utahn’s want a national monument to protect the Bear’s Ears area from exploitation. This includes the Native American tribes.
    Our Republican representatives have ignored the wishes of the people, while selling their positions to the highest bidder.
    The Republicans have continually stripped public land agencies of funding, creating gigantic backlogs in maintenance and rule enforcement.
    With Hatch’s track record as a senator, we’ll never get the truth, but I do expect a journalist (?) to question the blathering nonsense that spews from his pie hole.

    • Bob June 3, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      right on

    • mesaman June 3, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      In addition to your exaggerated and nonsensical tirade about things you obviously know little or nothing about, you seem to have an anger issue. Any mood swings or irritations? As an atheist you probably have few options for relief; I mean the culture you live in really doesn’t find much concern for your ilk. By the way, those were Native Americans with Hatch, weren’t they; and their opinion was quite different from yours. So much for that. I won’t change your bias and you certainly reinforced mine, be certain to let Sanders or Clinton know of your unwavering support. They seem to need it more than ever.

      • Bob June 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm

        ohhhhhh, we got an orrin hatch fanboy in the house! whoohoo!

      • .... June 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm

        Talk about exaggeration and a delusional idiotic tirade of total B.S no one spews it out better than mesaman. put on your hip boots folks it’s getting deep in here again

  • godisdead June 4, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    There are times when I get angry Mesaman, times when Hatch lies to his constituents or when he ignores them, benefiting paid lobbyists.
    Obviously, you don’t follow the Bears Ears controversy. There are a minority of affected Native Americans who agree with Hatch. Naturally, Hatch creates a photo op with some to influence weak minds like yours.
    Without knowing me, you accuse me of being an atheist. I have no problem with that except I’m not. I should say “your God is dead”. My God certainly isn’t.
    A suggestion Mesaman – don’t strictly rely on local news sites or local biased reporters to give you the facts. Expand your horizons a bit.

  • Billy Madison June 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    ♪ Hatch Hatch Bo-Batch ♪ Banana Fana Fo-Fatch ♫ Fee Fi Mo Match ♪ Hatch Hatch
    ♪ Orin Orin Bo-Moron ♪ Banana Fana Fo Forin ♫ Fee Fi Mo Moron ♪ Orin Orin

  • godisdead June 4, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    …! Does anyone work at this fake news site? You guys are bogus. Four freaking hrs and comments are still in a holding pattern? WHAT IS THE FREAKING POINT IN MAKING COMMENTS WHEN THERE IS NO ONE AT YOUR END DOING THEIR JOB. I sent an email asking for a response. What was your response? Nada. If you have a policy of waiting for a few days to actually post comments, inform us of this policy please.
    Ed. ellipsis.

    • .... June 5, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Ha ha you’re got edited. !!

    • Bob June 5, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      they take days off. guess u can always post ur comment on that facebook trash if u cant wait

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