One environmental group is concerned stakeholders from outside Emery County did not get enough input during discussions about a federal bill to manage the county’s public lands. The legislation would impact the San Rafael Swell, Desolation Canyon and Labyrinth Canyon region.
Carl Albrecht represents Emery County in the Utah House of Representatives. He thinks the majority of people in the county support the federal land management bill sponsored by Representative John Curtis and Senator Orrin Hatch.
“Emery County had public meetings all along during the process off and on for years when they developed this plan and the BLM was involved," Albrecht said. "And other federal agencies. So I’m not sure they were left out of the process, it’s just that they didn’t travel to Emery County to be involved in it."
Teri Martin, a regional organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said while environmental groups may have been able to attend these meetings, attendance wouldn’t have resulted in the desired collaboration.
“It doesn’t really work for like a conservation group to show up at the public land committee meetings, or the county commission meetings and try to be a voice at those meetings. That’s really their own process for developing a proposal," Martin said.
Robert Davies is a physicist and associate professor at Utah State University. He recently spoke at a public hearing hosted by the alliance.
“The choices we make for our large wildland systems have repercussions that ripple out across the plant," he said. "And so in that sense, I’m interested in this certainly this discussion and all discussions on how we are choosing to manage our wild lands."
Davies said it is essential that large areas of undisturbed lands are managed in ways that preserve biodiversity and address climate change.
He and the wilderness alliance are asking Representative Curtis and Senator Hatch to bring the voices of environmental groups into the discussion before the bill is passed.