Anti-Wilderness Bill Introduced In Congress
Bennett/Matheson Bill Would Sell Public Lands, Sacrifice Wilderness
On Wednesday, July 12, Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) officially introduced his Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2006 (S. 3636). The next day Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT) followed Senator Bennett and introduced companion legislation (H.R. 5769) in the House of Representatives. The bills’ introductions came without any official public hearing in Utah, and without regard to the concerns expressed in the thousands of letters, emails, and phone calls they received on the proposal from Utahns and from Americans all over the country. In spite of widespread citizen concern, Senator Bennett is pushing for congressional action on this flawed bill this summer.
This legislation would promote massive development and sprawl in Washington County, Utah, sell off or give away a minimum of 25,000 acres of public land to developers, and undermine vast wilderness lands in the Zion-Mojave region that would be protected under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 882/H.R. 1774). At the same time, it could create a massive off-road vehicle trail system across public land, and would use potentially billions of dollars from the sale of your federal land to fund road building and water developments in Washington County.
Citizens and conservation groups aren’t the only ones speaking out against the legislation. The Salt Lake Tribune recently editorialized: “Now Bennett and Rep. Jim Matheson are asking Congress to approve an ill-conceived sell-off of 25,000 acres of public land in the county to private developers, a move that will only encourage further unmanaged sprawl in the desert, where scarcity of water should naturally dictate the pace of growth.” Meanwhile, the L.A. Times noted: “The proposed Washington County Growth and Conservation Act would sell up to 40 square miles of federal land and use the proceeds to finance a multimillion-dollar water pipeline and other local projects.” And the Sacramento Bee wrote that “[the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act] has the appearance of a deal cooked up in the back of the county courthouse.”
This bill is a raw deal for all except the special interests and land developers who stand to gain handsomely. Like so many times in the past, we need your help to stop this anti-wilderness legislation.
What You Can Do:
Call Your Senator:
Ask him/her to oppose public land sales legislation S. 3636, the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act. Explain that you oppose the sell-off of tens of thousands of acres of public land and that you want a bill that will protect America’s redrock wilderness.
It is especially important to call your Senator if he/she is on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, because Senator Bennett is pushing for a hearing in that committee as soon as the week of July 26th. It is at this point that members of the committee can ask questions about the proposal and voice their objections. It is imperative that the controversial nature of this legislation be raised at this important stage, so these Senators must hear from their constituents in the next week. The members of the committee are:
Chairman Pete V. Domenici (NM) 202-224-6621
Larry E. Craig (ID) 202-224-2752
Craig Thomas (WY) 202-224-6441
Lamar Alexander (TN) 202-224-4944
Lisa Murkowski (AK) 202-224-6665
Richard Burr (NC) 202-224-3154
Mel Martinez (FL) 202-224-3041
James M. Talent (MO) 202-224-6154
Conrad Burns (MT) 202-224-2644
George Allen (VA) 202-224-4024
Gordon Smith (OR) 202-224-3753
Jim Bunning (KY) 202-224-4343
Jeff Bingaman (NM) 202-224-5521
Daniel K. Akaka (HI) 202-224-6361
Byron L. Dorgan (ND) 202-224-2551
Ron Wyden (OR) 202-224-5244
Tim Johnson (SD) 202-224-5842
Mary L. Landrieu (LA) 202-224-5824
Dianne Feinstein (CA) 202-224-3841
Maria Cantwell (WA) 202-224-3441
Ken Salazar (CO) 202-224-5852
Robert Menendez (NJ) 202-224-4744
If one of your Senators sits on this committee, please contact him/her today!
Call Your Representative:
Tell your representative to oppose public land sales legislation H.R. 5769, the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act. Explain that you oppose the sell-off of tens of thousands of acres of public land and that you want a bill that will protect America’s redrock wilderness.
If you are a Utahn, it is important that you call Representative Matheson today and tell him you are opposed to H.R. 5769, the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act. Tell him that you oppose the sell-off of tens of thousands of acres of public land and want a reasonable and balanced proposal that will protect America’s redrock wilderness.
Rep. Matheson’s local phone numbers are:
Salt Lake City: 801-486-1236
St. George: 435-627-0880
Or email him at: http://www.house.gov/matheson/contact.shtml
Thanks for taking action!