Washington, DC—Today, Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) introduced the bicameral Shawnee Wilderness Area Designation Act of 2021, legislation to lock up 289,000 acres of land in Illinois and make it part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The bill comes in response to legislation introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) this week that betrays an agreement to designate nearly one million acres in Emery County for multiple use, which was made as part of the Natural Resources Management Act, the public lands package signed into law in 2019. Senator Romney and former Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) first introduced the Shawnee Wilderness Area Designation Act last Congress.
“Senator Durbin refused to meet with me and has now attempted to lock up land in Utah two Congresses in a row,” Curtis said. “It is clear the Red Rock Wilderness Act is not serious legislation, but an effort to fundraise off a liberal base that doesn’t know any better. A senator from Illinois should not be bullying rural Utah, especially when he has land back home that needs protection.”
“Senators in the East shouldn’t be telling people in the West what to do with our land,” Romney said. “If wilderness is so important to Senator Durbin, he doesn’t need to go all the way to Utah to designate it. Our bill would designate the 289,000 acres of national forest in Illinois as wilderness so he can save himself a trip across the country and enjoy the wilderness in his own backyard. So long as Senator Durbin continues to introduce his bill, we will continue to introduce ours.”
An agreement and compromise made by conservation, recreation, mineral development, ranchers, and elected officials, the Emery County Public Land Management Act resolved a decades-long controversy over federal land designations in Emery County. It designates nearly one million acres in Emery County for multiple use including recreation, conservation, development, and grazing.