There has been a lot of talk lately about the Obama Administration's Wild Lands Policy known as Secretarial Order #3310. This "top-down" approach is very disturbing. It's also in direct contradiction to what the Obama Administration recently instructed the public to do. The Obama Administration's new policy is dividing us instead of bringing all users to the table in order to move forward.
I've lived in Carbon County all of my life. With my family, I've camped on the Wasatch Plateau, ridden dirt bikes throughout the San Rafael Desert, mountain-biked with the MECCA club, and hiked more miles than I'm willing to admit. I've closely followed and understand public land issues, as I've been involved in the process for nearly 30 years.
There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding management of public lands because with each new administration in Washington D.C., there comes a change in policy at the BLM and Forest Service. But that doesn't mean there isn't something we can do locally. We can, and we must, let our voice be heard.
I fully support Emery County Commissioners Jeff Horrocks, Laurie Pitchforth and JR Nelson, and The Emery County Public Lands Council. I urge them to continue their work on the Emery County Public Lands Bill. I applaud their efforts and their commitment to making sure our voices are heard.
We should be focused on working together to create a bill that represents the desires of the local community, where everyone with an interest has a seat at the table. We should all have a say in what happens to our public lands. We are its stewards, its protectors and its patrons. These lands are where we hunt, fish, hike, ride, camp and spend time with our families.
I know that discussions around land use and wilderness designation are difficult but we've seen in Utah's own Washington County that a "bottom-up" collaborative process can result in a workable agreement.
I hope that the work being done by the ECC and the ECPLC will create an even better bill for Emery County. I also believe that the Emery County Public Lands Bill process prevented (or at least influenced) the Obama Administration when they chose not to designate a new monument in the San Rafael. My belief is that if Emery County had not been developing it's ECPLC, the Obama-Salazar regime would have used the magic pen to designate the San Rafael as a national monument. I understand that this remains a real threat, and it could still happen. I'm trusting that Obama-Salazar will back off as long as Emery County is actively pursuing a locally grown solution.
I believe the only thing that the end to the 30-year debate over the amount of wilderness will come thru an ECPLB. But, only if the bill is created through open collaboration of all stakeholders who are willing to get out on the ground and see the facts. Facts are obvious once you get out on the land and touch, feel, smell and kick the dirt. That's exactly what the ECPLC has been doing for more than a year now. They have taken many field trips to all parts of Emery County. These trips have involved all stakeholders willing to invest the time and energy to get out and see for themselves.
The ECC, ECPLC, and staff need your help. They need your involvement. They need you to participate in the process. They don't know everything about every area of Emery County. They need you to speak up. We've elected them to be our voice on land use issues, but they can't speak for us unless we let them know what our concerns are. They've heard from me many times. Have they heard from you?
I will continue supporting the Commissioners and Public Lands Council as they work on a "bottom-up" lands bill. They have my support, and gratitude for being willing to lead on these tough issues. Their job is to represent us, so now it's up to you and I to let them know our desires.