The governor is wasting millions to take your “birthright” away from you
The state of Utah is spending millions on tourism advertisements to tell Americans that Utah’s public lands are their “birthright.” The ads are correct—Utah’s public lands do belong to all Americans.
But at the same time, Utah Governor Gary Herbert last year signed legislation to spend millions of dollars on a lawsuit intended to take that birthright away. The state’s attempt to take control of American public lands is likely doomed—Utah’s own Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel admitted it has “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.”
The state of Utah needs to make a U-turn from its hypocrisy and stop trying to take Americans’ birthright away from them.
Politicians want to drill at the gates of The Mighty 5®
Utah’s tourism campaign touts The Mighty 5®—five national parks in Utah that are among our nation’s most pristine. But if Governor Herbert and Rep. Bishop get their way, the road to The Mighty 5® could become dotted with oil, gas, and mining operations.
The Public Lands Initiative bill introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop and supported by Governor Herbert would designate more than 2.5 million acres of land in Utah’s red rock country for permanent fossil fuel development. And when President Obama cancelled 77 improperly issued leases in Utah, some of which would have opened up drilling next to Arches and Canyonlands National Park and other popular recreation areas, Rep. Bishop called the decision “crap.”
This is Utah’s vision for its public lands. But for Utah’s outdoor recreation and tourism economy it would mean a rapid U-turn for the worse.
Utah’s leaders disrespect Native American tribes and history
At the urging of a coalition of Native American tribes, President Obama protected thousands of historical and sacred sites in the new Bears Ears National Monument. President Obama gave Utah’s congressional delegation every opportunity to protect the area through legislation, but they were unable or unwilling to pass a bill, leaving the Antiquities Act as the only viable path for protecting Bears Ears.
Bears Ears is not the only monument at risk. Utah state legislators are pushing to drastically shrink Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, home to ancient petroglyphs and geological rarities.
Utah’s politicians need to make a U-turn and treat the land and all people of Utah with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz are the leaders of the Anti-Parks Caucus
As Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Representative Rob Bishop is the most powerful and influential member of the Anti-Parks Caucus in Congress. In recent years, Representative Bishop has gone to great lengths to undermine America’s public lands legacy.
Since taking the gavel in 2015, Rep. Bishop has consistently worked to delay and defeat bipartisan conservation efforts.
He’s trained his fire on the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program that has been called America’s most successful parks program. Despite broad bipartisan support for its renewal, Rep. Bishop held LWCF hostage, refusing to even allow a hearing on the bill. The critically important conservation law was eventually renewed for three years, much to Rep. Bishop’s chagrin.
Representative Jason Chaffetz shows a similar disrespect for Utah’s treasured outdoor landscapes. He is trying to make sure Bears Ears National Monument does not receive any funding to protect cultural artifacts and outdoor recreation and is even trying to undermine law enforcement officers who work to keep on America’s public lands. Rep. Chaffetz also introduced H.R. 621, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which would sell off 3 million acres of national public lands for private use and development, including oil and gas mining. Though he walked that bill back after intense pressure, he continues to push a companion bill, H.R. 622, which would eliminate public land law enforcement, putting our park rangers at risk from violent extremists.
Both Rep. Bishop and Rep. Chaffetz are supportive of publicly threaten the many Utahns and Americans who are supportive of the Antiquities Act, one of the most important conservation laws which has been used by nearly every U.S. President since Theodore Roosevelt to protect public lands, like the Grand Canyon and Zion.
America’s parks and public lands play a unique and important role for Utah and its economy, Rep. Bishop needs to make a U-turn on his anti-parks rhetoric.
Utah leaders are trying to export their land seizure agenda
Utah is working to export its land seizure agenda to other Western states. Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory is the founder of the American Lands Council, a group dedicated solely to forcing the American people to give up ownership of their national lands.
Ivory wants Utah’s land seizure lawsuit to be a model across the West. He’s been the subject of multiple ethics complaints, most recently for conducting American Lands Council business from his official state e-mail account.
Until Utah’s elected leaders make a U-turn and vow to protect rather than exploit American lands, visitors should think twice before supporting Utah with their wallets.
Photos: Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management