Utah Wilderness Coalition

CONTACTS: 
Richard Peterson, Cremer Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance 202/546-2215
Jessica Ennis, EarthJustice 202/667-4500
Amy Mall, Natural Resources Defense Council 720/565-0188
Myke Bybee, The Sierra Club 202/675-2389
Julie Mack, The Wilderness Society 801/355-0070

Utah Wilderness Coalition (UWC) Congratulates Senator Robert Bennett, the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the Grand Canyon Trust and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on final passage of the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 (H.R. 1275)

          WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 6, 2009) -- The Utah Wilderness Coalition today hailed the final passage of the Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 (H.R. 1275). This legislation, which recently won approval in the House of Representatives (RC481 7/8/09), will enable federal government acquisition of state land parcels within the spectacular Colorado River corridor in Utah.  Many of the public lands to be acquired by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in this exchange qualify as wilderness and will be managed to preserve their wilderness character, which is currently not possible. This bill will protect iconic landscapes near Moab from unfettered oil and gas and other types of irresponsible development.  This legislation simplifies land ownership patterns and management for iconic landscapes in Wilderness Study Areas in Castle Valley, Onion Creek and Sand Flats Park.  Many of the state parcels to be traded are completely surrounded by lands proposed for wilderness in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, which would be strengthened by this bill.  At the same time, the State of Utah and its schoolchildren will benefit by receiving lands more appropriate for development and the ensuing revenues that development would provide. 

        We appreciate the substantial efforts made by the sponsors, Senator Bennett and Representative Matheson and other Members of Congress, SITLA, the Grand Canyon Trust and both Congressional authorizing committees as well as the Bureau of Land Management in the creation of this legislation and commend them for meeting with such a diverse group of stakeholders and involving so many interested parties.  This land exchange is a noteworthy example of how diverse stakeholders can work constructively together.  Further, this legislation provides a good example of how to balance conservation and development needs in a mutually beneficial way.  The Utah Wilderness Coalition looks forward to seeing the President sign the bill soon, opening the door to more of these types of solutions to longstanding public lands issues.

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