Fight against wilderness by Rainer Huck
Recently the Emery County Progress reported that the Public Lands Council had considered partnering with SUWA to fund a facilitator position to work on land use issues. Frankly, I can't imagine a more foolish program or one that would produce a worse outcome for the people of Emery County and of Utah.
For more than 20 years, SUWA has employed every means possible to impoverish our rural people and separate them from the land of their heritage. They are card carrying members of a quasi religious cabal that hates human beings, their productive works, their affluence, and, most of all, their independence from total governmental regulation.
Their ultimate goal is the implementation of the Wildlands Project that would leave Utah's cities and towns veritable islands in an ocean of Wilderness. We would be cut-off from any productive benefit from the land, which, in one way or the other, is ultimately the source of all wealth.
No matter what compromising noises they may be making now, their undisputable and irresistible goal is for 10 million acres of Wilderness on BLM Land. The ink won't be dry on any compromise we make and they'll be hungry for more. You can be sure that SUWA has a hand in Obama's sneaky National Monument scheme for our beloved San Rafael Swell, just like it did in Clinton's infamous GSENM. That little political maneuver will wind up costing us untold billions of dollars which could have paid for most of our public schools without resorting to the punishing property taxes under whose yoke we all must now suffer.
Consider, in the alternative, the state of Texas which has a $22 billion trust fund for education derived from oil revenues. Had not Texas taken control of the lands within its borders, this revenue would have been neutralized by endless environmentalist lawsuits and political sabotage.
The current ultra partisan political climate is the worst ever for a Wilderness bill that might respect the heritage and traditions of the people most affected as well as the interests of our state.
It is simply impossible to get a good deal at this time and we should not move forward, in spite of the defeatist attitude displayed by many elected officials. Just look at what happened in Washington County where, among other things, the extraordinary 90 year old Canaan Mountain Sawmill Road was sacrificed because the commissioners were intimidated by the environmentalists' empty threats. No matter what they claim, if just one of our US Senators has the courage to say no, the bill is DOA.
The county by county wilderness process that is currently all the rage was pioneered by that icon of the radical left, Senator Harry Reid, who used it to secure far more wilderness in Nevada than would have been the case under a statewide regime. Why would we want to emulate the scheme devised by the most nauseating extreme environmentalist politician who has turned his home state into such a wreck that, although he is the majority leader of the Senate, he faces almost certain defeat in the November elections?
There is some good news: It's not too late for Emery County to avoid the Washington County debacle; it can be done if the majority of residents take just a few minutes to do the following:
1. Call on your county commissioners to stand firm against any Wilderness designation until the RS2477 Roads issue has been fully resolved in favor of the county, which should claim each and every qualifying road. Also, since the Public Lands Council is following a path that will result in the permanent impoverishment of the people of Emery County; council personnel, especially those receiving taxpayer compensation, should be replaced with those willing to defend the access rights of the citizens of Emery County.
2. Call Senators Hatch and Bennett and tell them you want no more Wilderness Designation in Utah until the RS2477 issue is settled statewide. Obtain from them a pledge to block, by filibuster if necessary, any untimely or partial designation attempt. Senator Bennett should be particularly susceptible to persuasion because he faces a good deal of discontent within his own party and is at risk of elimination at the Republican State Convention.
If enough people bother to do these simple things, the unjust federalization of Emery County's public lands can be avoided. Wilderness is the most extremely restrictive form of public land management. At its inception in 1964, Congress envisioned about 12 million acres would ultimately be so designated. As in all things, the environmentalists grotesquely abused the power granted them so now we have over 120 million acres. Wilderness moves total control of the land to Washington DC and eliminates all uses except one, and in so doing discriminates against the vast majority of our people who do not have the strength, endurance, health, or mobility to access the lands they used to own and once traveled freely upon. There is absolutely no benefit to the county or state resulting from Wilderness Designation; each bill is just another notch on the environmentalist's sword of conquest of the people and the Constitution.
Are we to be sacrificed so easily on the altar of environmental extremism? Maybe not, but only if the people will take the time and effort to speak out now can our precious public lands still be saved.