Utah’s majestic geography is a public asset owned by all Americans, even as rural communities raise legitimate points about the balance between land protection, tourism, and local economics. We have a responsibility for stewardship of our public lands, to maintain and protect public land values and the economic, community, and natural resources they offer, for both current and future generations.
Most of the land in Utah’s 2nd congressional district is in federal ownership. This includes the spectacular treasures of Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Parks, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Cedar Breaks National Monuments, and thousands of square miles of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Services lands. We need to ensure that our parks and monuments are adequately funded and staffed to meet the dual objectives of preservation and responsible use.
Federal investment in our public lands and infrastructure brings economic benefits to local communities—direct local employment and contracts, as well as fostering extractive and non-extractive industries that are critical for rural economies. Our national parks in CD2 are economic engines and sources of renewal for locals and visitors alike. Their facilities and infrastructure have been neglected and declining for too long. Investments in staffing and construction can benefit local communities through steady jobs and contracts as well as sustainable tourism. Stewardship requires investment and dialogue. Public lands management issues, such as wildlife and wildfire management, will not be successfully addressed unless the stakeholders are all in the room together to develop workable solutions. Federal funding, together with local solutions that reflect the unique position of our public lands as national treasures must be our goal.
In addition, the Red Rock Wilderness Act, first introduced in 1989 by Utah congressional Representative Wayne Owens, must be revisited and the legislation moved forward.
Read more about Kael Weston’s issue and policy priorities.