Well before Spanish explorers came, this area was occupied by Native Americans. The Spanish were followed by Mormon settlers. Then prospectors and ranchers. The gold boom of the 1890s was followed by the peach boom, and eventually by oil. Most of us know the story of the uranium boom. Then the federal government came in and started designating specific areas for specific purposes.
Moab is now a world-class attraction. There are times when that’s hard to deal with; the influx of over a million visitors for eight months of the year is a mixed blessing. As is the influx of a lot of retirees who, like me, came for the beauty of the land, recreational opportunities, and yes, peace and quiet.
The problem is, with or without the blessing of any or all of the constituencies represented in Moab, this area will continue to change and evolve. How will we manage that? Many of us have strong personal values that we’re willing to fight for. My hope is that the county council will listen to all stakeholders and communicate a balanced set of priorities to our elected officials. And I hope – and pray – that those elected officials will serve the interests of the people they were elected to serve.
Do the benefits of oil and natural gas development outweigh the costs? There’s a lot of money to be made; will it stay here? The landscape will be altered, as will air and water quality. Is it worth it?
Why is wilderness so important? Is the land here worth preserving? Is too much “public” land set aside for future generations to enjoy? Should we care?
There’s a lot at stake here, and all of us in Grand County are stakeholders. Let’s make choices that will make our children and grandchildren proud.