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Commentary

By Jen Beasley Ujifusa
Legislative Director
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

SUWA notice to members on Bishop's bill

Editor's note: This letter below was sent to members of SUWA. It is reprinted here with permission to let the Emery County residents know SUWA's position on the possible public land use bill that Rep. Rob Bishop and Rep. Chaffetz is working on for the counties in Southeastern Utah.

We've written before that Congressman Rob Bishop is crafting a land use bill for eastern Utah -- the very heart of redrock country.

Since he first reached out to us and other stakeholders in February, we have participated in good faith, providing 30 years of accrued wisdom about the ecological, archeological, and wilderness values of the region.

We know what you're thinking: that it's risky, right? That it's hard to imagine Rep. Bishop, a longtime wilderness antagonist, doing something SUWA could align with? That the very fate of the redrock may hang in the balance?

We know. But that's exactly why we intend to stay at the table. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't. And so far, so good.

Throughout August, several open houses were held in the six counties Rep. Bishop has identified for this project. Some were productive, others were cringingly contentious reminders of the challenges ahead. A series of field trips with delegation representatives, conservationists, county commissioners, sportsmen, and others yielded the kind of useful, frank conversations board rooms just don't facilitate. There is some common ground, but so far, no bill.

We'll continue to strive to be productive, professional, and principled. We're advocating for the expanded participation of stakeholders along the Wasatch Front and throughout the nation.

After all, it is only the 30 years of activism from members like you that helped get us where we are today, here at the corner of Hope and Pragmatism. To be sure, this effort is fraught with challenges. We don't know what the final legislation -- if we even get that far -- will be. There's no guarantee we'll like it.

But if we don't try, it's guaranteed we won't. We're staying involved, knowing we've got you, and thousands like you, behind us. There just may be something good coming up ahead.

Thanks for that, and for all you do.




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