Rep. John Curtis and Sen. Orrin Hatch are teaming up on a new public lands bill that protects more than 1 million acres in Emery County.
The bill establishes a new Jurassic National Monument, plus increases the number of wilderness areas under protection by more than 140,000 acres.
Rep. Curtis tells UtahPolicy.com the bill was the result of bringing stakeholders on all sides together.
“This will be the biggest lands bill you’ll see in well over a decade, and it’s been a long time since Congress has seen anything like this,” said Curtis. “As you can imagine, stakeholders on all sides have very high expectations. Amazingly, this bill seems to fit within all of those.”
The new Jurassic National Monument will cover 2,543 acres. Additionally, the bill exchanges nearly 100,000 acres of SITLA land, which will help fund Utah’s public schools. The wilderness areas in the bill include more than 436,000 acres of wilderness study areas and 577,000 acres of wilderness following the SITLA exchange.
“This brings a lot of certainty to those who have used the area for grazing or recreation and the many use cases down there. What’s exciting is the many groups who have been involved in putting together a plan that seems to meet almost everybody’s needs,” said Curtis.
That collaborative effort is surprising given the rancor that had surfaced following the last big public lands decision in Utah when President Trump reduced the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
“People are tired of this winner take all mentality that surrounds public lands,” says Curtis. “It’s refreshing to come together and say we can all win in this if we have an open mind and a willingness to work together,” he said.
Listen to our podcast interview with Rep. Curtis as he discusses his recent trip to the Middle East, his thoughts on President Trump’s decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, government spending and why he thinks it’s a bad idea for Republicans to run away from tax reform.