Protecting Utah’s Red Rocks

Photo by frango. Some rights reserved.

Photo by frango. Some rights reserved.

Having never been to southern Utah, everything I know about its natural beauty I’ve learned through second hand reports and the film 127 Hours. Man-eating crevices aside, even a cursory Google image search for “Utah red rocks” make it pretty clear that it’s a special place, full of labyrinthine alien rock formations sculpted over millions of years by wind and rain. However, like all other scenes of extreme beauty, red-rock country in Utah is susceptible to the elements, especially when coupled with heavy tourism.

However, in the great tradition of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt, Democratic Utah state senator Jim Dabakis has proposed setting aside 1.5 million acres of the red-rock area as under federal government protection. This area is currently adjacent to but outside the jurisdiction of the Canyonlands National Park, which means it’s currently managed at the state level. Mining entrepreneurs have had eyes on this territory for some time, which alarms conservationists who would see this are endure. Hence, Mr. Dabakis’ resolution to protect these lands from any sort of development, save for an unspecified amount of land in eastern Utah that while be used for energy development.

“The recreation people aren’t going to be happy, the drill-baby-drill crowd isn’t going to be happy,” Dabakis said to the New York Times. “But it will be a giant victory with some individual losses.”

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