The Natural Resources Management Act was passed by the Senate the morning of February 12, 2019.
It’s not too late to stop it in the House, and we encourage motorized and mechanized (bicycle) users to contact their representatives to say they oppose restricting access around the San Rafael Swell.
The main reason Emery County Commissioners and Governor Herbert support the bill is it consolidates over 64,000 acres of School Institutional Trust Land Administration (SITLA) property that is currently spread out across Emery County. Developing the consolidated land could generate at least $50 million. Such consolidation has been achieved many other times without having to designate 10 acres of wilderness for every 1 acre of SITLA land, which is what happened here.
We feel that the Governor’s and Commissioners’ support of the bill is very short sighted, because putting over 642,000 acres around the San Rafael Swell into Wilderness designation will close 73 miles of county Class D primitive roads plus other motorized trails. The loss of future OHV revenue from these 642,000 acres dwarfs the one-time revenue of $50 million from consolidating those other 64,000 acres. Decision makers likely undervalued the 642,000 acres and 73 miles because they didn’t consider the OHV revenue potential.
The San Rafael Swell is a beautiful area. The land is rugged and vast, with historic travel routes winding through magnificent mesas. For many years, it has been enjoyed by families traveling by horse, 4x4s, ATVs, bikes, and foot. Travel in the San Rafael Swell is currently restricted to “Designated Routes Only” so it is already legally protected. Wilderness is restricted to “Non-mechanized Use Only” and thus limits access to only elite hikers.
For a more detailed analysis of the bill, go to www.SageRidersMC.com/land-use-issues.html.
On February 11th, 2019, Senator Mike Lee wrote an article for the Deseret News titled “This bill is not the right move for Utah lands.” Here are a few key points Senator Lee Makes in that article:
The bill fails to reform federal land acquisition programs, and reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which has not been implemented consistent with the original intention of the fund.
The bill adds new restrictions on land already under federal control and protection.
The bill creates another 1.3 million acres of Wilderness in the West, over half [642,000 acres] in Utah.
Wilderness designation limits far more activities than required to actually protect the land.
Wilderness designation prohibits almost all activity, including all commercial activity, all infrastructure development, and any travel by car or bicycle.
This bill does nothing to address the imminent threat to Utah from unilateral executive land grabs through the Antiquities Act. Other western states have this protection. All that would have been required to provide Utah the same protection would be adding Utah to the list of protected States.
Please consider joining the Utah Public Lands Alliance. You can show your support for keeping public lands open by joining UPLA. UPLA will continue updating status of this bill here online.
Remember, “United We Stand!”