Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Editorial: Don't relax on wildlands

It's cheering to see that sometimes Washington will listen to the people -- and heed their demands. Last week, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a turnabout on a controversial order that gave the Bureau of Land Management the power to designate millions of acres of federal land as "wildlands" that could be considered for designation as wilderness areas. Potentially, that could have made wide swaths of Utah off-limits to development. So what happens now with the federal lands? Salazar says his agency will work with Congress and other stakeholders to list areas that might merit the wilderness tag. That's a more reasonable stance. Environmentalists may howl, but now it's possible to work out solutions. Utahns do not want to desecrate the beautiful landscape around us. People here value nature. They are, however, realistic about using nature's mineral wealth. If nothing else, the latest economic news should remind us all how badly the nation needs to use all its assets -- energy especially. And energy development brings good-paying jobs to Utah. The process of figuring this out has begun. San Juan, Piute and Emery counties are looking at how to work with Congress to allow development in some areas while limiting it in others. That, too, is appropriate. Local residents know the most about the land. They will also suffer the most if aesthetically valuable land were to be abused. At the same time, Americans will not benefit by withholding the riches under our feet from the marketplace. Development is appropriate in many places. Utah leaders must keep the pressure on. The same forces that have hampered the use of the wealth lying beneath our feet won't rest; neither should we...more

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