Taking the long view...
Mar 07, 2013 | 1636 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In light of the recent outdoor recreation industry proposal to set aside Greater Canyonlands National Monument, it looks like we’ll soon be rehashing the arguments about nature preservation versus development that have been circulating for years. It might be worthwhile to take a longer view, asking ourselves how the debate might look from, say, the perspective of 2064, when our grandkids will wonder what position we took on the issue.

If you think back nearly 50 years to 1964, the establishment of Canyonlands National Park itself was as controversial then as its enlargement could become now. There was much complaint about federal “land grabs” and the devastating impact that Canyonlands NP would have on the region’s economy.

Does anyone still make that argument today? Does anyone really think that Canyonlands National Park was a bad idea? Even Gov. Herbert, who wants most federal lands in Utah shifted to state control, says that he would exempt Canyonlands and other national parks/monuments from the transfer – except for Grand Staircase/Escalante, precisely because it is fairly recent.

The conclusion seems obvious: the passage of time allows the benefits of federally protected lands – including the economic ones – to become apparent. If you adopt the perspective of 2064, the same will probably be true of Greater Canyonlands National Monument. By then, most of our energy will come from renewable resources like solar and wind, and we’ll be driving electric or fuel-cell cars. Consequently, natural gas and oil will be a dwindling, nearly obsolete part of our overall economy.

Our descendants won’t believe that we tried to block Greater Canyonlands just so we could pump a little more natural gas out of the lands where the National Monument would have been. Besides, with a population of 500 million by 2063, Americans will be desperate to find undeveloped lands to escape crowded cities and traffic-clogged highways. Permits to hike, bike, or camp in places as beautiful as Canyonlands will be hard to obtain, so our descendants will be grateful for every extra acre of wild country we were able to preserve.

The wise policy, then, would be: drill for fossil fuels where it’s reasonable to do so – say up by I-70 – and leave the really spectacular, still rarely visited country around present-day Canyonlands NP alone as a national monument so our grandkids and their friends can enjoy it.

—Lew Hinchman


Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.