Gov. Herbert invites Senators to see Utah, support PLI

GovLetterSens600

Last week, 14 members of the U.S. Senate penned a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to use his “authority under the Antiquities Act to declare Greater Canyonlands a national monument.” That would be a 1.8 million acre monument to be more specific.

SensLetter200And if that sounds like a lot of land, consider it would be roughly 30 percent of all the land in New Hampshire. All this in a state that is already home to to five national parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, one national historic site, six national forests, and 43 state parks.  The federal government owns and controls roughly 37 million acres of land in the State of Utah –or more than two-thirds of the state–  through the following federal departments and agencies including: USFS, NPS, BLM, USFWS, DoD, and BIA.

You can read the entire letter from the group of senators HERE.

Gov. Herbert is encouraged to learn the senators have such a deep appreciation for Utah and the natural wonders available here… and he knows there’s a better way to manage the land than by unilaterally locking away such a significant space. In response, the governor has sent a letter to each of the 14 senators to invite them to come see firsthand what we do in the state to preserve our beautiful landscape and to help people from around the world enjoy it.

More importantly, Gov. Herbert expressed his support for the Public Lands Initiative (PLI) championed by Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01) and others that would allow for a more careful designation of protected land while keeping the areas that should be utilized for recreation and energy development available to benefit the people of our state.

Here’s the text of the governor’s letter:

August 5, 2014

Dear Senator:

I read with great interest your recent letter, encouraging President Obama to create a new national monument in Utah. While I disagree with the specific actions you recommend, I fully concur that Utah is blessed with amazing natural resources worthy of protection.

As you may know, Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), in collaboration with others in the Utah congressional delegation, is spearheading the Public Lands Initiative (PLI). The PLI is an open, collaborative effort, designed to resolve many long-standing public land challenges in Utah, including the area you specifically identified in your letter. For the past two years, a diverse group of stakeholders, including the environmental and business communities as well as county, state, and federal officials, has been working to craft federal legislation that would strike the appropriate balance between preservation and development.

Knowing that we share a goal to preserve Utah’s unsurpassed natural beauty, I invite you to consider supporting Representative Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative. His approach would be comprehensive and more politically palatable than a national monument designation. I would be happy to discuss with you the reasons I believe it is the right approach.

Unfortunately, few out-of-state federal officials have had the opportunity to personally experience the natural wonders of Utah. However, just yesterday, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-03) hosted Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD-07) on a tour of our state to see firsthand what we are doing to preserve these iconic vistas and venues and optimize the use of our public lands. I would like invite you to take a similar tour.

Please let me know the most convenient time for you to visit, and my office will make the appropriate accommodations to ensure your time in Utah is pleasant and informative. If you have questions, please contact my Chief of Staff Justin Harding at (801) 538-1000. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Gary R. Herbert
Governor