Multiple use

Letter to editor

Imagine yourself perched atop a rocky peak, catching your breath from the hike up. You wipe the sweat off your brow and gaze in admiration of the land that you, as an American citizen, own. The sunset takes your breath away, but is it really the sunset catching your breath? Imagine, it could just be soot and smoke from the newly opened coal plant. Does this visual make you feel grateful for multiple use management?

Consider these figures: the outdoor recreation industry in Utah generates $856,000,000 in tax revenue, $12,000,000,000 in consumer spending, and 122,000 jobs (Governor’s Office of Economic Development).  Utah’s recreation industry offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, camping, climbing, all of which generate jobs and tourist revenue. Over 82% of Utahns participate in outdoor recreation annually, and 79% of Westerners visit public lands annually. (Outdoor Industry Association, Public Opinion Strategies). Providing access to quality outdoor recreation also protects extrinsic values such as the mental and physical health benefits of pristine outdoor spaces. The founders of the Utah constitution understood the value of preserving their heritage when they wrote, “the people inhabiting Said state do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof.” Expanding energy development would mean depleting environmental quality; in effect, this would mean decreased economic and social value. There is scarce justification for an industry that threatens the continuation of business, heritage, and health.

Here lies the flaw with multiple use management: does resource extraction allow other uses? Can cattle graze near a polluted stream, hikers climb a peak if the mountain has been removed, or outfitters bring in tourist revenue towards a destitute landscape? Multiple use is a contradiction given its current intentions of expanding energy development. Think about how you would like our lands to be managed as you explore them this summer, and as our representatives make those decisions on our behalf.

Justine Cornwall, Breathable air enthusiast.

jncornwall@gmail.com


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