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Letter to the Editor: Public Lands Bill falls short

I watched Utah Congressman John Curtis and former Emery County Commissioner Randy Johnson introduce the new 2018 Emery County Public Land Management bill in a subcommittee hearing on June 21.
Congressman Curtis said the new bill came to him from Emery County. Randy Johnson said the Curtis bill was the result of more than 23 years of hard work.
I read the bill and with all due respect to Congressman Curtis and Randy Johnson, there is no way this new bill is the result of Emery County’s hard work. Not by a long shot!
Groups like the Wilderness Society needn’t worry though. Congressman Curtis made sure all of the Wilderness is in his new bill. And about 33,000 acres more!
The main difference between the “old” 2017 Emery County bill and this new Curtis bill is what is missing. Gone are sections that protect livestock grazing. Gone is the attempt to keep the current travel management plan the way it is. Gone are sections that attempt to push the BLM to take more aggressive actions controlling noxious weeds and non-native species. Gone are sections that allow our grazers to build and maintain fences and watering ponds.
It makes no sense to me. For example, the Curtis bill designates Wilderness where roads and trails are currently allowed by BLM. Yet the Congressman has completely removed important parts that would attempt to keep these routes open. Does Congressman Curtis think groups like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance WONT try to close those roads?
All the “good” parts in the 2017 Emery County that Congressman Curtis removed were there for a reason. It took of decades of meetings and field trips to develop and every word is in there because the people of Emery County think it’s important.
I hate to admit it, but Randy Johnson is right. At least when he says the 2017 Emery County bill is a result of 23 years of hard work. Over the years I remember Emery County officials say they wanted to do what is right for our county. Not just what was politically possible. Although I am not a supporter of Wilderness, the “old” 2017 Emery County bill does a good job of getting it right.
Congressman Curtis said in the hearing that he was open to suggestions on how to improve his bill. Emery County needs to tell him to fix it by putting back all of the important parts that were in our original bill.
Tory Ward-Killian

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