Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Salazar's wilderness proposal criticized by Utah delegation

Desolation, Westwater and Mill Creek canyons in Utah's Grand County are among 18 backcountry areas Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said merit wilderness protections by Congress. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, quickly denounced the report. “I am deeply disappointed that Interior Secretary Salazar continues to be tone deaf about public lands issues in Utah," Matheson said. "As our success in Washington County shows, wilderness proposals must be the result of a grassroots, stakeholder-driven process, rather than a top-down decree. This is not the way to make progress on public lands decisions and it only ensures that we won’t see a successful outcome on the ground here." "The long-term solutions for these lands in question will come from a locally-driven process, not dictates out of Washington," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. All five members of Utah's congressional delegation penned a letter to Salazar in September asking that the state be excluded from any recommendations he might make. In the letter, they said 22 of 29 counties expressed a similar sentiment, fearing that any top-directive would undermine any progress made on land bills made so far...more

And Utah Senator Mike Lee said:

"Like every other state, Utah knows what is best for Utah’s land,” said Senator Lee. “I will not support any new wilderness designations unless they are first considered and approved by the Utah state legislature. “Roughly two thirds of Utah is already owned by some part of the federal government. While any other owner would pay property taxes on this land to the state, the federal government does not, depriving Utah of an enormous source of income. In addition, Washington’s pervasive overreach also affects countless groups that want to put a small portion of land to some sort of use. Utahns must go to the federal government, hat in hand, and ask permission to merely dig a well, or to build a road, or to bury cable, or indeed to do virtually anything. "As a result, I believe the Utah legislature must first consider and approve proposed wilderness designations before any final determination is made at the federal level."

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