Red Rock Wilderness bill reintroduced in 113th Congress…
1. H.R.1630 : To designate as wilderness certain Federal portions of the red rock canyons of the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin Deserts in the State of Utah for the benefit of present and future generations of people in the United States.
Sponsor: Rep Holt, Rush [NJ-12] (introduced 4/18/2013) Cosponsors (60)
Committees: House Natural Resources
Latest Major Action: 4/18/2013 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
2. S.769 : America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act of 2013
Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] (introduced 4/18/2013) Cosponsors (11)
Committees: Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Latest Major Action: 4/18/2013 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
WILDERNESS: Durbin, Holt introduce 9.1M-acre Utah Red Rock bill
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
E&E: Friday, April 19, 2013
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) yesterday introduced a bill that would preserve 9.1 million acres of Utah as wilderness, prohibiting drilling and motorized recreation among some of the state’s prized red rock canyons and sandstone arches.
The measure, which was first introduced in 1989 by former Utah Rep. Wayne Owens (D), faces tough odds of passage, as no members of the Utah delegation sponsored it.
The lands proposed for protection are popular among backpackers, hikers and wildlife enthusiasts and are home to an array of archaeological resources, sponsors said.
“This land was chosen based on meticulous research and surveying of thousands of square miles to determine which lands should be protected,” Durbin said in a statement. “America’s Red Rock Wilderness is a lasting gift to the American public that will give future generations the opportunity to enjoy a landscape that so many now cherish.”
The bill would protect canyons, mesas and “fantastical sandstone formations” from development and irresponsible land use, Holt said.
The lawmakers said 1.1 percent of Utah lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are protected as wilderness. They argue BLM failed to include “vast areas of wild country” in its original wilderness inventory.
In its first stand-alone hearing in the House in fall 2009, the bill drew support from former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and CEO of Black Diamond Equipment Peter Metcalf, among others.
But while the bill attracted 120 House and 13 Senate co-sponsors of both parties last Congress, wilderness bills rarely move without the support of their local delegation.
Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch (R) and Mike Lee (R) and Reps. Rob Bishop (R), Jason Chaffetz (R) and Chris Stewart (R) yesterday released a letter urging colleagues to oppose the bill, arguing that the federal government already owns 66 percent of land in Utah.
“The sponsors and cosponsors of this bill will not be from Utah,” the lawmakers wrote. “In fact, Utah elected officials, including the governor, state legislative leadership, rural county commissioners and Utah’s Republican and Democratic members of Congress have unanimously opposed this bill.”
The lawmakers said they are in the process of crafting a bill that would allow for both conservation and development on public lands “in a locally-driven, transparent process.”
Energy industry jobs are among the highest-paying in Utah, they added.