Sierra Club * Wasatch Mountain Club * Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

For immediate release: April 22, 2008
Justin Allegro, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 202/266-0473;
Lawson LeGate, Sierra Club, 801/467-9294;
John Veranth, Wasatch Mountain Club, 801/ 581-3789

Statement from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Wasatch Mountain Club regarding
The Washington County Growth & Conservation Act of 2008
(S. 2834) Subcommittee Hearing April 22

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the Wasatch Mountain Club cannot support S. 2834 as currently drafted, though we look forward to working with Senator Bennett and the Congress to improve this bill and protect the wild Zion-Mojave region.

While S. 2834 is an improvement over the version from the previous Congress, cooperative work to address concerns about several of the bill’s provisions will need to continue, including those provisions regarding wilderness boundaries and management, public land sale and distribution of revenues, and off-road vehicle management.

“While we appreciate Senator Bennett is proposing potential wilderness gains for areas such as Docs Pass, necessary adjustments are still required in order to adequately address off-road vehicle damage in sensitive wilderness-quality lands, such as the spectacular redrock canyons in Canaan Mountain south of Zion National Park,” said Scott Groene, with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

“Local governments should not develop a dependence on selling off public lands to fund local projects,” said the Sierra Club’s Lawson LeGate.  “That’s why we need to remove the provision that grants millions in land sale revenue to Washington County.”

The three conservation groups would like to thank the Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee for holding this important legislative hearing today, on Earth Day, particularly Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and their dedicated staff for their individual efforts to improve this bill.

John Veranth, of the Wasatch Mountain Club, added that, “We are pleased with the progress that has been made on this bill since last Congress, even as we raise our concern with certain provisions in this legislation. This is only the beginning, and we look forward to working to balance outdoor recreation opportunities while protecting the land and the ecosystem.”


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