Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Robert Redford Pushes for More Wilderness in Utah

Redford, the famed actor, director and environmental activist, is speaking out in favor of a bill now being debated in a Congressional subcommittee. Called America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, the bill would give wilderness protection to vast tracks of land in southern Utah. The bill has been debated off and on for decades, but advocates think they may now have the support needed to push it through.

Writing for The Huffington Post, Redford says, "This is our chance to be present at the creation. If we pass the Red Rock Wilderness Act, we can tell our grandchildren that we helped birth the latest Yellowstone. We can say we preserved treasures equal to Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks. We can add to the wilderness inheritance of future generations, and they will thank us for it." Read his full article.

Virtually everyone agrees that some wild and scenic land in southern Utah needs more protection. The debate rages around exactly what areas to include and how restrictive the protection should be. Redford and other bill advocates want to block new roads, mines and other development. The majority of people living in southern Utah oppose such restrictions.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the bill. Here below are excerpts.

Utah's five federal lawmakers all attended Thursday's House subcommittee hearing to voice their opposition to the Red Rock bill, a statewide effort 20 years in the making that would protect 9.4 million acres from new roads, mining or off-road vehicles.

"There are beautiful pristine areas of Utah that need to be protected, but this bill goes far, far beyond that," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the ranking member of the public lands subcommittee. "This particular bill is a relic of the past. It has not been successful since the age of disco and it will not be successful now or in the future."

Bishop penned this article, published in the Deseret News. Below are excerpts.

It is important to note that this flawed and antiquated bill is not supported by a single federally elected official from Utah. This fact speaks volumes. Part of the reason for this unanimous opposition is that the Hinchey bill advocates locking up nearly 20 percent of the state. Closing one-fifth of the state from economic activity would have dramatic negative effects on education funding, employment, local and state tax revenues, energy production and quality of life.

At its basic level, the Hinchey bill includes large swaths of land that simply do not fit the legal definition of wilderness.

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