Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 5727, Representative John Curtis’ bipartisan Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018. This historic conservation bill, introduced with Senator Orrin Hatch, protects over one million acres in Utah’s Emery County. The product of two decades of local outreach and public meetings, this bill establishes a gold standard for future efforts to resolve long lasting problems facing our public lands.
Congressman Curtis frequently talks about the dangers of a “winner take all philosophy” surrounding the public lands debate. He hopes that this thorough process of bringing together diverse stakeholders and amending the bill to bring coalitions together is a model to resolve long standing and difficult challenges facing our public land management.
Throughout the legislative process for this bill, Congressman Curtis has made an effort to give everyone a seat at the table. Today, he welcomed an amendment from Chairman Bishop, in addition to his own amendment that resolves various stakeholder concerns with the original version. Congressman Curtis’ amendment replaces the National Conservation Area with a National Recreation Area in a stakeholder compromise, adjusts the NRA Advisory Committee membership, replaces multiple sections with standard management language, adjusts various boundaries for manageability, incorporates DOI technical assistance as appropriate, in addition to other changes.
“This bill is a win for everybody. It balances the needs of funding for Utah’s schools and conserving some of our nation’s most pristine land and resources,” Congressman Curtis said. “I am excited to champion this bill that helps add new resources and economic development opportunities to Emery County, and brings together conservation organizations, motorized and non-motorized recreation, sportsmen, local officials and governments, the State of Utah, the Congressional delegation, and many others. This is truly a local solution championed by the locals closest to the land.”
“This bill is a testament to how local input can help Washington solve problems. H.R.5727 brings resolution to local land access issues, improves our conservation efforts and enhances educational opportunities for kids. I want to thank Rep. Curtis for his hard work on this legislation, and encourage the majority leader to move quickly to take up this bill and pass it.” Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah)
Statements of Support
Emery County Commission
After decades of work on this legislation by the PLC we feel that the amazing resources in our County will be available for future generations as a result of this legislation. We are grateful that Senator Hatch and Representative Curtis and their staffs have helped with the appropriate language for this legislation. – Rod Player, Chairman, Emery County Public Lands Council
We are pursuing congressional action to assure regulatory certainty for the outstanding natural resources in Emery County. This bill is inclusive of all stakeholders and their interests. It makes sense. It is a better way to make natural resource management decisions. We all will benefit. – Lynn Sitterud, Chairman, Emery County Commission
Outdoor Alliance [LETTER]
Outdoor Alliance is a coalition of nine member-based organizations representing the human powered outdoor recreation community. The coalition includes Access Fund, American Canoe Association, American Whitewater, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, The Mountaineers, the American Alpine Club, the Mazamas, and Colorado Mountain Club and represents the interests of the millions of Americans who climb, paddle, mountain bike, and backcountry ski and snowshoe on our nation’s public lands, waters, and snowscapes. Our community greatly appreciates the strong conservation provisions contained in the bill—including nearly 530,000 acres of Wilderness, more than 336,000 acres of National Conservation Area, and Wild and Scenic protection for 63 miles of the Green River—for area which contain superlative outdoor recreation opportunities.
John Gilroy, Director of U.S. Public Lands, The Pew Charitable Trusts [LETTER]
Beyond its conservation gains, this bill also offers a rare opportunity to move beyond some of the animosity surrounding public lands in Utah. Pew is hopeful that this bill will serve as a model for future land designation bills in the state and beyond. It is locally driven, negotiated in good faith, and drafted using language that reflects other successful conservation legislation, such as a 2009 bill that protected hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in Washington County, Utah. Approval and passage of this bill would protect the integrity of the National Wilderness Preservation System while demonstrating that stakeholders with a variety of divergent interests can agree that there is long-term value in protecting the natural, cultural, and historic resources of our federally-managed public lands.
Nathan Fey, Director of Colorado River Stewardship Program, American Whitewater
On behalf of American Whitewater’s members and partners, I want to thank Sen Hatch and Rep. Curtis for introducing legislation to protect public lands and rivers in Emery County, Utah. The Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018 reflects the collaborative approach taken in its development and protects nearly 1 Million acres of public lands and 98 miles of rivers in the county for their conservation and outdoor recreation values. Adding the Green River to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System, and creating new Wilderness Areas for the San Rafael River and Muddy Creek, protect these high-value landscapes from any water development schemes and will help ensure that these waterways can be enjoyed in the future, just as they are today. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Hatch and Representative Curtis to identify shared conservation and recreation priorities, and toward further improvements in the bill.
Governor Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah
I appreciate these efforts working with Emery County Commissioners and other leaders and stakeholders to develop the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018. It’s an important bill and is a great example of what can happen when members of a community set aside differences and work to find solutions that will benefit the county, its residents, and the state of Utah