Congressional Delegation urges Congress oppose Red Rocks Wilderness Act

From L to R: Rep. Chris Stewart, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Mike Lee; Utah Rep. Jim Matheson is not shown as he did not participate in the subject matter involved in this report | Image by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee,  and Reps. Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz, and Chris Stewart, today urged their colleagues in the United States Senate and House of Representatives to not support the Red Rocks Wilderness Act.

The Red Rocks Wilderness legislation, introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois would mandate the creation of 9.4 million acres of designated wilderness areas in Utah, nearly one-fifth of the state’s entire land mass. These 9.4 million acres of new wilderness designation would come at a time when the federal government already owns 66 percent of Utah’s land.

In a letter sent to past supporters of similar legislation, Hatch, Lee, Bishop, Chaffetz, and Stewart wrote that “(t)he sponsors and cosponsors of this bill will not be from Utah. In fact, Utah elected officials, including the governor, state legislative leadership, rural county commissioners and Utah’s Republican and Democratic members of Congress have unanimously opposed this bill.” The Members of Congress note that “(t)he Red Rock Wilderness Act would jeopardize jobs in the energy industry which are among the highest paying in the nation and are substantially higher paying than most jobs in rural Utah.”

Hatch, Lee, Bishop, Chaffetz and Stewart added that “(t)he Utah delegation is not opposed to preserving wilderness quality lands,” and that they are in the process of writing legislation “that provides for both conservation and development opportunities in a locally-driven, transparent process.”

The full text of the letter sent today is below

April 18, 2013

Dear Colleague,

America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act will be introduced this year, and as members of the Utah congressional delegation we are asking you to please refrain from cosponsoring this bill. Furthermore, we would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this proposal and other local, Utah-specific lands issues with you or a member of your staff.

The sponsors and cosponsors of this bill will not be from Utah. In fact, Utah elected officials, including the governor, state legislative leadership, rural county commissioners and Utah’s Republican and Democratic members of Congress have unanimously opposed this bill.

The Red Rock Wilderness Act would mandate the creation of 9.4 million acres of wilderness, nearly one-fifth of Utah’s entire land mass. We have several concerns about this proposal. 

The federal government owns 66% of Utah’s land, compared to 10% or less in eastern and southern states. Millions of federal acres in Utah are already designated as national parks, wilderness, national monuments, or other conservation designations. In fact, 36% of federal land in Utah is protected while only 12% is leased for oil and gas.  An additional 9.4 million acres will further widen the gap and reduce the potential for future economic development in rural Utah.

The Red Rock Wilderness Act would jeopardize jobs in the energy industry which are among the highest paying in the nation and are substantially higher paying than most jobs in rural Utah. Moreover, production of oil and gas on federal lands in Utah benefits the federal treasury and reduces America’s dependence on foreign oil. To be clear, we are not proposing that wilderness quality lands be open for mineral extraction or oil and gas exploration.

The Utah delegation is not opposed to preserving wilderness quality lands. In fact, several members of the Utah delegation are working on a Utah lands bill based on input from state and local government officials, conservation groups, and other stakeholders. This will be a balanced bill that provides for both conservation and development opportunities in a locally-driven, transparent process. To obtain more information on this process, please contact John Tanner in Sen. Hatch’s office at John_Tanner@hatch.senate.gov or Fred Ferguson in Rep. Bishop’s office at Fred.Ferguson@mail.house.gov.

Resources

A signed copy of the Utah Delegation’s April 18 letter can be viewed HERE

Related posts

Utah congressmen urge disposal of federal land, protest BLM land acquisition, suppression of commercial use

Stewart introduces bill to curb creation of national monuments in Utah

Lee responds to Salazar’s comments on Utah lands

Submitted by the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

From L to R: Rep. Chris Stewart, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Mike Lee; Utah Rep. Jim Matheson is not shown as he did not sign on the letter subject of this article. Feb. 7, 2013 | Image by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News
From L to R: Rep. Chris Stewart, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sen. Mike Lee; Utah Rep. Jim Matheson is not shown as he did not sign on the letter subject of this article. Feb. 7, 2013 | Image by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

 

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3 Comments

  • Utesmax April 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Once again, the Republicans, who gerrymandered their way into disproportionate representation of Utah’s electorate, are pandering to their true constituency, the profiteers, happy to trash Utah’s beautiful treasures in the process. Maybe they should take a hike in the Canyonlands some time.

  • Chris April 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    The author says that this “would come at a time when the federal government already owns 66 percent of Utah’s land.” All of the proposed wilderness already belongs to the federal government. So, if the proposed act becomes law, the federal government would still own 66 percent.

  • philiplo April 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    When Mssrs. Hatch, Lee, Chaffetz, Bishop and Stewart are opposed to something, I know it’s something I wholeheartedly support. I hope their efforts come up short of their goal.

    Where they say, ” 

The federal government owns 66% of Utah’s land, compared to 10% or less in eastern and southern states” they must certainly know it is misleading. The fact that the land is contained within the state’s borders do not make it “Utah’s land.” As is CLEARLY stated in the Enabling Act of 1894, “That the people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof.”

    What part of “forever disclaim all right and title” do our politicians not understand?

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